Nowadays we all have our own computer (or computers, plural). But back in the 1960s? Not so much.

That all changed on May 1st, 1964.

At 4am, on that fateful Friday, the first large scale Time Sharing computer system was launched – The Dartmouth Time Sharing System (DTSS).

Yes. One of the most significant computing systems in history was launched on a Friday. At 4am. I mean it's not “5pm on a Friday”… but, yikes.

Note: This wasn't the very first Time Sharing system, that honor goes to John McCarthy back in 1959. The Dartmouth system was, however, the first to be large scale and acheiving significant, long term success.

The DTSS, by Thomas Kurtz and John Kemeny, is also significant as the first system with the BASIC programming language – created by those same lovely geniuses for that very system.

This is a high level schematic of the Dartmouth Time Sharing System:


The Teletypes connected to a [Datanet-30 computer] – which, in turn, connected to the GE-235 computer… which did the real heavy lifting.

Oh. Oh. And check this out. In the December 2nd, 1966 issue of Dartmouth's newspaper (“The Dartmouth”) there appeared the following tribute to the Time Sharing System, BASIC, and the hardware that powers it.


In case this is hard to read, here's the text version. This is absolutely real. You're welcome.

Hail to thee, blithe Computer!

Man thou'rt not, but far astuter.

If brains weren't needed to program thee,

With questions even I would jam thee,

On Life, and Love and Philosophy

and who SHOULD have won the Ivy Leage.

And if they response were lackadasic

I'd learn to speak to the in BASIC

For who would stir they electronic bowels

Must learn to speak in BASIC vowels.

O Apollo of Erie Boulevard *

O Dartmouth's Delphic Clairvoyard!

Time-sharing, answer-bearing.

Generous but impartial Bard!

Kiewit has built thee and oracle's nest

Where Kemeny, Kurtz and Kreider's zest

May have full play.

O Blithe Computer, O G.E. Whiz!

How insufficient BASIC is

To sing thy praise!

“*” - Site of G.E.‘s Schenectady plant.


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