Milestone-Proposal talk:BASIC

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-- Administrator4 (talk) 16:25, 23 August 2018 (UTC)

In order to avoid the passive voice, to add details, and clarify that BASIC is no longer the principal programming language used on microcomputers, here is a suggested edit for the citation:

Professors John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz at Dartmouth College designed the Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC) programming language between 1963 and 1964. The simplicity of BASIC's syntax, and the wide acceptance of its enhanced versions, made it useful in fields beyond science and mathematics –- an early instance of “accessible computing.” During the mid-1970s and 1980s, BASIC was the principal programming language used on early microcomputers.

Citation use of names -- Lise Johnston (talk) 21:47, 26 January 2019 (UTC)

It has generally been preferable to recognize the technical advancement without recognizing the individuals as the primary focus of milestone citations. The citation currently begins with the names of Professors John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz at the beginning of the wording even before the achievement itself is enumerated. Consider revising the citation with that in mind. Maybe also describe what was special about BASIC in the plaque so the average viewing public who isn't familiar with it can better understand the significance of the achievement.

Incomplete application -- Lise Johnston (talk) 21:50, 26 January 2019 (UTC)

Missing the section "What features set this work apart from similar achievements?"

Missing items -- Jason.k.hui (talk) 10:32, 4 September 2019 (UTC)

It appears this milestone proposal did not have any expert reviews performed nor the advocate's approval recorded in the discussion area. Also, the intended plaque site as noted in the proposal is still incorrect. Based on my last email exchange with the milestone proposer in early July, the plaque will be installed on the west side of the south facade of Collis, the building formerly called College Hall. The proposal still has Kemeny Hall listed with the wrong photo.

Jason Hui

History Committee Vice Chair & Milestone Subcommittee Chair

Re: Missing items -- Jbart64 (talk) 21:01, 4 September 2019 (UTC)

Replace this text with your reply

I agree with Jason, we need the expert reviews. Generally, I am supportive of this milestone as it proceeds toward completion. Dave Bart

Citation and general -- JaninA (talk) 11:41, 9 September 2019 (UTC)

I second the comment of Dave. Also I agree with Lise, that the Citation does not reflect and does not explain the significance of this Milestone.

Table for next time? -- Allisonmarsh (talk) 06:13, 13 September 2019 (UTC)

I am in general approval of the milestone, but thinks it needs finalization before being voted on by the HC.

Expert Review - Jim Issak -- E.tejera (talk) 16:05, 25 September 2019 (UTC)

Colleagues, I strongly support the "BASIC milestone" effort ... of course, you must realize that I'm in the category of students identified by Dykstra when he asserted "It is practically impossible to teach good programming to students that have had a prior exposure to BASIC: as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration” Perhaps some regeneration has occurred subsequent to my first use of the language on an HP system in 1967. [Also note, as Vice Chair of the NH Section I've been an advocate of this for some time.]

1) Is the suggested wording of the Plaque Citation accurate?

 -- Yes, perhaps it understates the real impact of BASIC since it was a significant component
    of both Apple and Microsoft's  emergence in the market.

2) Is the evidence presented in the proposal of sufficient substance and accuracy to support the Citation?

-- Yes, I hope that Dartmouth, and others keep the description provided in places where future students and such can

    reference this.  In a world of smart phones that out-compute the largest computers of the last century, and languages 
    like Python (which is an interpretive language, with some inspiration from BASIC) have facilitated the explosion of \
    data science, analytics, and deep learning ... it is easy to forget how BASIC translated a box of silicon tied to a
   TV set into a device that millions of users could both use, but also actually learn to program.   A standard test
  applied by myself and others to any new personal computer was to enter a simple BASIC program to add the
  numbers from one to a thousand just to verify that it worked, was easy to use and reasonably fast.

3) Does the proposed milestone represent a significant technical achievement?

   absolutely.  there is really no alternative with similar impact.  IBM's APL was also
   an interpretive language that supported multi-user systems, but it was literally Greek
   to most of it's few users.  Small computers (Mini's/Micros) were programmed in assembly
   code which was even more likely to 'mentally mutilate' students (myself included) 
   The addition to BASIC of peek/poke (to directly manipulate RAM contents), made it
   an essential tool for hackers (both in the positive use of the term - folks who create
  quick and dirty applications; and the negative sense -- folks that do nasty things to your 
  computer.) ... Microsoft's continued evolution of BASIC as a core part of their office tools,
  (it's the macro coding tool), into Visual Basic and also a web-server side programming
   environment, added the critical structured programming components that Dykstra
  was advocating (proper loops and the elimination of "GOTO" being key examples.)
  BASIC put programming in the hands of millions of non-computer science folks,
  something that cannot be said for any other computing language.


Best wishes

Jim Isaak

Expert Review ..cont.. Jim Isaak -- E.tejera (talk) 16:13, 25 September 2019 (UTC)

I should also point out that the Computer Society honored BASIC's creators as "Computing Pioneers" with their major award in this area: 1991 Thomas E. Kurtz For BASIC 1985 John G. Kemeny For BASIC so my perspective is shared by others in the Society with respect to the value of this contribution

Jim Isaak

Expert Review - Kathy Land -- E.tejera (talk) 17:40, 26 September 2019 (UTC)

Enrique,

 No worries, I am fine with the citation as proposed.  Maybe inclusion of the year would be an improvement the committee might consider.  If not, I am good with the citation.  Thank you again for the opportunity.

Kathy

From: Enrique Tejera <e.tejera@ieee.org> Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 1:10 PM To: Land, Susan K CIV MDA/BC/BCD <Susan.Land@mda.mil> Cc: Robert Colburn <r.colburn@ieee.org> Subject: Re: The Basic Programming Language Milestone Expert Revision - Land

Dear Kathy,

Thank you very much for your prompt response.

Regarding your observation about names not included in the citation, this was something discussed by the committee and following established guidelines we try to omit names on the plaques citations trying to avoid misleading and confusion that this may bring where there are several people involved in a specific achievement.

Also, setting specific dates is another topic of discussion since many achievements do not occur in a specific moment and many times it is the effort of several years of investigation, trial and error. That is also why we try to focus them to a time period where a given achievement was developed.

Maybe Robert can elaborate more about the guide we follow for citations.

Based on this, if you agree, we can continue and take you revision as positive to move forward. This will require to leave the citation as it is. Otherwise will have to bring the citation text back to the committee for further discussion.

We need the concurrence of two experts and we already have the first one.

Thanks,

Enrique



On Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 12:21 PM Land, Susan K CIV MDA/BC/BCD <Susan.Land@mda.mil> wrote: Enrique, Thank you for the opportunity to provide input. Here is my feedback:

In your critique of the proposal, the Committee would like you to assess three particular aspects of the proposal: 1) Is the suggested wording of the Plaque Citation accurate?

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance: What is proposed: “Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC) programming language was created in this building. During the mid-1970s and 1980s, BASIC was the principal programming language used on early microcomputers. Its simplicity and wide acceptance made it useful in fields beyond science and mathematics and enabled more people to harness the power of computation.”

Comments:

It would be preferred to have the citation begin with the date of creation and authors. I would omit the statement about ‘70’s and ‘80’s as it is irrelevant. For example, ‘In 1964, John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz designed the original Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC) programming language in this building. BASIC was the principal programming language used on early microcomputers. Its simplicity and wide acceptance made it useful in fields beyond science and mathematics and enabled more people to harness the power of computation.’

2) Is the evidence presented in the proposal of sufficient substance and accuracy to support the Citation? Yes; I did additional research as well and am satisfied that it is accurate as stated.


Does the proposed milestone represent a significant technical achievement?

Yes, BASIC was the ideal programming language to bridge the explosive growth of the early microcomputer and opened up the field of computing to those not typically in science and engineering. During this period, many early programmers were self-taught and BASIC was the natural bridge to the more advanced programming languages that developed later (no matter what the critics might say). In the 1970’s and 1980’s, universities were simply not able to keep up with industry demand for individuals with computing skills – most specifically those with demonstrated programming ability. BASIC provided the ability for anyone with a PC to program and develop these needed skills at home, providing new employment opportunities for individuals in the field of computing and programming. BASIC was the much needed stepping stone language for both students and professionals during a time when it was much needed. It was ideal because it was portable and easy to understand. The importance of BASIC and its overall impact of the advances made in the following years, as programming languages matured and the individuals who started their careers with BASIC moved on to more advanced languages, simply cannot be measured.


Please let me know if this is sufficient and what you were looking for,

Kathy