President Kemeny




Native Americans


Three Mile Island

Forever Dartmouth

Kemeny first learned about computers that could store data and programs at the same time from one computing's early pioneers, fellow Hungarian John von Neumann, at a 1946 lecture at Los Alamos. It sounded like science fiction, but Kemeny, who had crunched his share of numbers at Los Alamos, was fascinated. His first chance to use a computer came in 1953, and he was hooked. He had a prescient grasp of the impact computers would have on society, and he became determined to make it easy for students to access the new technology. This was a tall order at a time when the only computers available cost millions of dollars and used relatively difficult-to-learn languages. But Kemeny convinced the Dartmouth administration to make the investment. In 1963, he and math colleague Thomas Kurtz designed the first widely used "time sharing" system so that a single computer could simultaneously serve many users. The following year they wrote BASIC (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) to allow those users to write programs easily. Dartmouth became the leader in accessible computing.

SEE MORE: "The Computer and the Campus" (QuickTime movie)