from http://www.digitalcentury.com/encyclo/update/BASIC.html (BrokenLink) ...
In 1964, students at Dartmouth College needed better access to computers and a simple, effective language to write computer programs. First, John G. Kemeny, who was the chairman of the Department of Mathematics, and Professor ThomasKurtz created the Dartmouth Time-Sharing System, one of the first time-share computer systems in the United States; then they created BASIC computer language so students could write programs to run on the General Electric GE-225 mainframe that was the heart of the system.
It was one of the first languages designed for real-time interaction as opposed to the batch systems. Some have called it "interactive Fortran". To facilitate this, it used line numbers so that TeleType users could change lines simply by retyping a line with the same number. (This was before advanced text editors, and CRTs had yet to become a common computer interface.) When one was done entering lines, they would type RUN to run the program. This simple editing convention was one of the reasons for its long-standing success as a training and hobby language. One did not need to learn an editor in addition to the language.
I had an opportunity to buy an original manual for DartmouthBasic for a buck at a book sale, and for some unfathomable reason I passed, which I regret as I like collecting such arcana. -DavidBrantley
This manual is available as a PDF document at http://www.bitsavers.org/pdf/dartmouth/BASIC_Oct64.pdf.