Hungarian-American mathematician John Kemeny and American mathematician Thomas Kurtz at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, developed BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) in 1964. The language was easier to learn than its predecessors and became popular due to its friendly, interactive nature and its inclusion on early personal computers. Unlike languages that require all their instructions to be translated into machine code first, BASIC is turned into machine language line by line as the program runs. BASIC commands typify high-level languages because of their simplicity and their closeness to natural human language. For example, a program that divides a number in half can be written as
10 INPUT “ENTER A NUMBER,” X
30 PRINT “HALF OF THAT NUMBER IS,” Y
The numbers that precede each line are chosen by the programmer to indicate the sequence of the commands. The first line prints “ENTER A NUMBER” on the computer screen followed by a question mark to prompt the user to type in the number labeled “X.” In the next line, that number is divided by two and stored as “Y.” In the third line, the result of the operation is displayed on the computer screen. Even though BASIC is rarely used today, this simple program demonstrates how data are stored and manipulated in most high-level programming languages.