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Arnold Spielberg and the Birth of Personal Computing

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It’s BASIC*

[By staff reporters]

From Thomas Edison to former President Ronald Reagan and novelist Kurt Vonnegut, GE has employed a number of luminaries over the course of its 123-year history.

But, one famous last name that’s been missing from this list is Spielberg.

***

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***

Enter Arnold Spielberg

In the late 1950s, Arnold Spielberg, the father of Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, helped revolutionize computing when he designed the GE-225 mainframe computer. The machine allowed a team of Dartmouth University students and researchers to develop the BASIC programing language, an easy-to-use coding tool that quickly spread and ushered in the era of personal computers.

(Young Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs all used the language when they started building their digital empires.)

LINK: http://www.gereports.com/post/117791167040/its-basic-arnold-spielberg-and-the-birth-of

More:

More on BASIC*

BASIC (an acronym for Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming languages whose design philosophy emphasizes ease of use.

In 1964, John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz designed the original BASIC language at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. They wanted to enable students in fields other than science and mathematics to use computers. At the time, nearly all use of computers required writing custom software, which was something only scientists and mathematicians tended to learn.

Versions of BASIC became widespread on microcomputers in the mid-1970s and 1980s. Microcomputers usually shipped with BASIC, often in the machine’s firmware. Having an easy-to-learn language on these early personal computers allowed small business owners, professionals, hobbyists, and consultants to develop custom software on computers they could afford.

BASIC remains popular in many dialects and in new languages influenced by BASIC, such as Microsoft’s Visual Basic. In 2006, 59% of developers for the .NET Framework used Visual Basic .NET as their only programming language.

Conclusion

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Good Night H. Ed Roberts MD

Medical Inventor, Bio-Engineering Pioneer and Colleague

[September 13, 1941 – April 1, 2010]

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA

[Publisher-in-Chief]

According to Wikipedia, Henry Edward “Ed” Roberts MD was an American engineer, entrepreneur and medical doctor who designed the first commercially successful personal computer in 1975. He is most often known as the “father of the PC.” He founded Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems [MITS]) in 1970 to sell electronics kits to model rocketry hobbyists, but the first successful product was an electronic calculator kit that was featured on the cover of the November 1971 issue of Popular Electronics magazine. The calculators were very successful and sales topped one million dollars in 1973. But, a brutal calculator price war left the company deeply in debt by 1974. Roberts then developed the Altair 8800 personal computer that used the new Intel 8080 microprocessor. This was featured on the cover of the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics, and hobbyists flooded MITS with orders for this $397 computer kit. Bill Gates and Paul Allen joined MITS to develop software and Altair BASIC was Microsoft’s first product. Roberts sold MITS in 1977 and retired to Georgia where he farmed, studied medicine and eventually became a small-town doctor after commencing medical school at age 39.

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Roberts_(computer_engineer)

My Connection to Ed

Almost 20 years ago, I co-founded a small medical education software company, for a tiny niche market. My partner was a computer “whiz kid”. I was the chief executive, brain-child and enfant terrible. We are still in business today.

Nevertheless, I decided to contact Ed because I had just received my first PC [Intel® 286 microprocessor] from a publishing company who had contracted with me to write a medical textbook; remember DOS and WordPerfect? I was also very familiar with Microsoft lore, especially relative to business thought and competitive analysis. Regular readers of the ME-P may even recall my mention of attending lectures by Michael Porter PhD [father of competitive analysis] while dating a girl who was attending Wharton Business School while I was a medical student in Philadelphia, back-in-the-day.

Anyway, I took it upon myself to write Ed for some advice. Remember, this was before the commercial internet was widely available. I used medicine as a mutual point of interest. Anyway; after no response, the incident was quickly forgotten because of a busy lifestyle, new medical practice, book-project, etc. I follow-upped about a year later and this time received an encouraging written reply from Ed. I treasure the letter to this day, almost as much as the ones I have from Louis Rukeyser [TV fame-died in 2006] and his uber-investor guest, Sir John Marks Templeton [son is a surgeon] who died in 2008. In 2005, Templeton wrote a brief memorandum predicting that within five years there would be financial chaos in the world. It was eventually made public in 2010.

Assessment

Ed practiced as an internist until his death, in Cochran – a city near Macon, GA. The population was 4,455 at the 2000 census. It is a very poor county in South Georgia, and many, if not most of Ed’s patients were on Medicaid and/or Medicare. He loved them dearly, and they loved him, too!

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Although perhaps not as famous as Gates and Allen; we say with all due respect and admiration – good night Dr. Roberts – and thank you for the personal computer … your love of medicine and mankind … and for reaching out to me so very long ago!

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