When Kemeney and Kurtz developed BASIC, they did not patent or protect in any way their invention. This made possible the growth and differentiation of BASIC. Among the first users of BASIC was General Electric, which had sold the GE-225 to Dartmouth. The spread of BASIC dialects started around 1970 when G.E. released machines with the fifth version of BASIC instead of waiting for the new version of BASIC to come up. This happend one year later in 1971 when Kemeney and Kurtz released "BASIC the Sixth".
Different BASIC versions had started originating and one of them was BASIC-E developed by Gordon Eubanks Jr.(The CEO and president of Symantec) in 1970. Eubanks was pursuing his Masters Degree in computer Science at the Naval Postgraduate School in Pacific Grove, California where his professor of compiler theory, Gary Kildall suggested to him to work on a BASIC interpreter Kildall had begun. The version that emerged was known as BASIC-E which was written for CP/M. BASIC-E had a significant improvement over other variants. BASIC-E used a technique similar to the one currently used by Java. It translated instructions into a kind of intermediate code and then converted into machine readable code. For programmers this meant that they could write sell their programs written for BASIC-E in the intermediate form without fearing that their coding design could be stolen or copied, since the intermediate code was not human-readable. Now, hobbyists could take programming seriously and could start selling their software.
During this time Eubanks also met Alan Cooper and Keith Parsons, who were keen on starting a applications software company and had the ambitions of "making $50,000 a year." They wanted his BASIC-E. Since Eubanks had kept BASIC-E as public domain compiler so Eubanks gave them a copy of his source code and never expected to see them again.
The second Wind
Eubanks met Cooper and Parsons once again in 1977 at the first West Coast Computer Faire where Eubanks was demonstrating Basic-E. The trio had some discusion and decided to work together on another BASIC project.
It was all along a night project. Cooper had a place in Vallejo, California, and Cooper and Parsons would drive there and sit until three in the morning drinking cokes, poring over listings, and trying to decide what statements to put in the language. Sometimes selection was less than scientific. Sitting there in the Vallejo house staring at the code, Alan Cooper would suddenly say,
"Why don't you put a WHILE loop in?" Eubanks would answer, "Sounds good to me," and in it would go. The result was CBASIC. CBASIC made some attempt at being a structured procedural language in an attempt to reduce the "spagetti code" approach. Earlier Eubanks did not protect BASIC-E but he did with CBASIC. In the beginning CBASIC was marketed by Cooper and Parson's Structured "Systems Group" and then by his Eubank's own company, Compiler Systems (which in 1981 was acquired by Digital Research which was started by Kildall). CBASIC was no longer in public domain anymore. People had to pay for it and it had most of the BASIC-E bugs fixed.
But Eubanks didn't know how much to ask for his BASIC. Cooper and Parsons suggested $150; Kildall suggested $90, the price CPIM first sold at. So Eubanks roughly split the difference and charged $100. CBASIC was an immediate success. Apart from that it had laid the foundation for software industry. Software industry had started maturing and was longer a domain for computer hobbyists anymore.
Blast From the Past >