The Altair 8800, considered to be the first mass produced Personal Computer from Micro Instrumentation Telemetry Systems, was first featured in the January 1975 edition of Popular Electronics. Altair 8800 had no software in the beginning, users flipped switches on the front panel, writing their own programs in machine language, and watching the LEDs on the panel light up in response to their commands. Bob Albrecht alwasy wanted to create software for reasons other than personal ambition and saw a opportunity with the introduction of this machine. The machine had very less of memory with just 4K of RAM, though at that time it enjoyed the status of microcomputer with the largest memory in the world.
Considering this he went to Dennis Allison, who taught computer science at Stanford and had started a quaterly tabloid, People's Computer Company (PCC) which was devoted to computer games. Albrecht asked him to make some design notes for a stripped-down BASIC that would be easy to use and wouldn't take up much memory. Allison wrote up a framework for a possible interpreter, labeling his article a "participatory project," soliciting help from anyone else interested in writing "a minimal BASIC-like language for writing simple programs." a simple BASIC implementation originally .
Free and very inexpensive software
Albrecht had always believed that the general public should have access to computers and knew that the Altair and similar machines could make this happen. The language was first developed solely as a standards document. Dennis and Bob originally published the design of "Tiny" BASIC in PCC, in three parts during early 1975. In December 1975, Dick Whipple and John Arnold responded to the design articles with a Tiny BASIC that required only 3K of RAM. Allison later recalled the reaction to the PCC article: "Three weeks later we got responses, including one sent from two guys from Texas who had written an entirely corrected and debugged Tiny BASIC, with a complete code listing in octal."
After some time in 1976 Dr. Li-Chen Wang wrote the first fully usable Tiny BASIC (dubbed as "Palo Alto Tiny Basic") for microcomputers for the 8080 based Palo Alto microcomputer, whose first version appeared in the May 1976 Vol 1, No. 5 issue of "Dr. Dobb's Journal of Computer Calisthenics & Orthodontia".Tiny BASIC is the first known freeware program. The textstrings "All Wrongs Reserved" and "Copyleft" was found in this program.
Embracing the free speech and free thought culture
Dr. Dobb's journal was a sister publication of PCC (and was contraction of Dennis and Bob , the first names of Allison and Bob). Tiny Basic was published three part document which comprised of the first three isuues of Dr Dobb's journal. In an early issue of PCC, Allison "& Others" explained their goal:
"Pretend you are seven years old and don't care much about floating-point arithmetic (what's that?), logarithms, sines, matrix inversion, nuclear-reactor calculations and stuff like that. And...your home computer is kind of small, not too much memory. Maybe it's a Mark-8 or an Altair 8800 with less than 4K bytes and a TV typewriter for input and output."
"You would like to use it for homework, math recreations and games like NUMBER, STARS, TRAP, HURKLE, SNARK, BAGELS,... "
"Consider then, Tiny BASIC."
Many of Dr. Dobb s and PCC's readers did more than consider it. They took Allison's program and modified it, often creating a more capable language. Some of those early Tiny BASlCs allowed large numbers of programmers to start using the machines. Two of the most successful versions came from Li-Chen Wang and Tom Pittman. They were "successful" in terms of the stated goal for Tiny BASIC-to give users a simpler language. The Tiny BASIC authors were not trying to use it as a path to wealth and this enabled thousands of programmers to begin experimenting with microcomputers.