Software, Basic for the Altair on Paper Tape

Software, Basic for the Altair on Paper Tape

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In the mid-1960s, Dartmouth College professors John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz developed a computer language intended to be easy to learn and use. They called it BASIC--Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. Students learned BASIC on a teletype terminal that communicated with a central computer. Several terminals were linked to one computer as part of a system called timesharing. Students on remote terminals could use the computer without seeing it--or even knowing what kind of computer it was. This particular BASIC tape was used with an MITS Altair 8800, a later microcomputer.
Object Name
date made
ca 1975
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 2.5 cm x 10 cm x 4.2 cm; in x 3 15/16 in x 1 5/8 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Forrest M. Mims, III
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Computers
Computers & Business Machines
My Computing Device
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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This roll of BASIC is from the Altair 8800 used by Les Solomon, technical editor of Popular Electronics. While BASIC was developed at Dartmouth, Paul Allen and Bill Gates knew that it had huge potential, which is why they developed a version of BASIC for the Altair after it was published on the cover of the January 1975 Popular Electronics. When Paul flew to Albuquerque to test their BASIC, it worked the first time, and MITS president (and Altair designer) Ed Roberts hired him to develop software for MITS. Paul then persuaded Bill Gates to leave Harvard and move to MITS, where they soon co-founded Microsoft.

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