The Altair 8800, the Computer That Birthed MS BASIC and Led to Microsoft
In this episode of Dave’s Garage, he looks at the “OG of desktop computers, the Altair 8800.”
It would be 8800 that would inspire Bill Gates and Paul Allen to write their BASIC interpreter which would eventually spread to almost many of the world’s desktops and lead to the ascendancy of Microsoft. The rest, as they say, is history.
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To set the record straight, I was working in the BASIC language, on a mainframe, years before the Altair came out. The Altair had nothing to do with the birth of BASIC. I coded in BASIC on an ASR terminal and – due to space restrictions – saved my programs on paper tape so that they could be re-entered to run. (I still have a few of those ‘tapes’ like the lunar lander program. This was in 1973.
Yes, he does mention the existence of BASIC before the Altair and Gates/Allen. He is referring to MICROSOFT BASIC. I’ll edit it in the post.