50 years ago at 4 a.m., a Dartmouth student and professor ran the very first BASIC program.
In the 1950s, if you were at Dartmouth and you wanted to run a computer program, you had to translate that code into a bunch of little holes on a punch card, drive the 125 miles to MIT where a room-sized computer was humming away, and then wait two hours.
But Tom Kurtz (seen in the second image holding a reel of magnetic tape) decided to change that. He developed a system where students and faculty could send their code to MIT via a teletype machine. To make computer programming even more accessible to students, Kurtz and his colleague John Kemeny created a simple programming language called BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code). It made programming much more intuitive.
“People who absolutely never would have engaged with a computer before were engaging with computers,” says Dartmouth professor Dan Rockmore. “It spread so quickly that the telephone company had to put in new trunk lines … so that everyone who wanted to get on the computer could get on the computer.”
Photog Jonas Fredwall Karlsson captured a lively mix of politicians, celebs, athletes & media personalities as they gathered for the Vanity Fair/Bloomberg White House Correspondents’ Party. See more portraits here.