People's Computer Company (PCC) was an organization, a newsletter (the People's Computer Company Newsletter) and, later, a quasiperiodical called the Dragonsmoke. PCC was founded and produced by Dennis Allison, Bob Albrecht and George Firedrake in Menlo Park, California in the early 1970s.
The first newsletter, published in October 1972,  announced itself with the following introduction:
"Computers are mostly used against people instead of for people; used to control people instead of to free them; Time to change all that - we need a... Peoples Computer Company."
It was published bimonthly.  The name was chosen in reference to Janis Joplin’s rock group Big Brother and the Holding Company.  The newsletter ceased publication in 1981. 
PCC was one of the first organizations to recognize the potential of Tiny BASIC in the nascent field of personal computing when it published that language's design specification in their newsletter. This ultimately led to the design of an interpreter that was published in a publication, which they named Dr. Dobb's Journal of Tiny BASIC Calisthenics and Orthodontia, dedicated to Tiny BASIC. The newsletter's title was changed to Dr. Dobb's Journal of Computer Calisthenics & Orthodontia for the second issue; the popular reaction to it eventually led to the long-running computer magazine Dr. Dobb's Journal (DDJ)  which continued publication until 2009.
PCC was among the first organizations to recognize and actively advocate playing as a legitimate way of learning. It published arguably the first best-seller in microcomputer literature, My Computer Likes Me When I Speak BASIC  and What to Do After You Hit Return. The company was an early proponent of software without copyright, and published much of it in the above books, in DDJ and in another periodical. That magazine originally shared the company's name but it evolved and was later renamed Recreational Computing. It focused on publishing code listings, mostly for games, that users could hand type into their early-model (and some homebrew) personal computers. Because the code was without copyright, authors were free to study it, adapt, rewrite and build upon it. The same was true of the more systems-oriented code published in DDJ. This no-copyright practice was a significant boost to the growing body of microcomputer software and applications, and to the general base of knowledge and developing best practices in the young industry.
PCC also fostered the activities of its child organization, ComputerTown USA! That formalized PCC's long-standing activism around general computer literacy. At a time when many computers still were kept in clean rooms, PCC was taking them to libraries, grade schools and elder communities. Their activities encouraged hands-on exploration and just trying things. The Logo programming language and turtle graphics gave some users their first experience of controlling something on a computer display. Computer phobia was commonly perceived by PCC staff as a barrier to learning in a significant number of users, even in a large majority of some populations during those early years. Apple Computer's Community Affairs department used ComputerTown USA! to develop curriculum and to conduct intensive trainings for the non-profit recipients of computer hardware and software grants from Apple.
As one of its core philosophical contributions, People's Computer Company recognized in personal computing a great potential for individual empowerment and social improvement. It saw that PCs could bring the same advantages to those hampered by race, class and circumstance as to those with more advantages. It believed a digital commons could lead to more intermingling of individuals from diverse social groups. It supported early models of networking personal computers using telephone lines. It could, in hindsight, be regarded as among the first contributors to a form of what is known now as network neutrality and a fundamentally non-commercial, class-free internet.[ original research? ]
The history of PCC and its role in the evolution of the personal computer was described in Steven Levy's book, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution .  In Levy's book, some of the values and ethics of PCC's founders are examined, particularly the ethics common among members of the hacker community.
BASIC is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming languages designed for ease of use. The original version was created by John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz at Dartmouth College in 1964. They wanted to enable students in non-scientific fields to use computers. At the time, nearly all computers required writing custom software, which only scientists and mathematicians tended to learn.
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Tiny BASIC is a family of dialects of the BASIC programming language that can fit into 4 or fewer KBs of memory. Tiny BASIC was designed in response to the open letter published by Bill Gates complaining about users pirating Altair BASIC, which sold for $150. Tiny BASIC was intended to be a completely free version of BASIC that would run on the same early microcomputers.
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Li-Chen Wang is an American computer engineer, best known for his Palo Alto Tiny BASIC for Intel 8080-based microcomputers. He was a member of the Homebrew Computer Club and made significant contributions to the software for early microcomputer systems from Tandy Corporation and Cromemco. He made early use of the word copyleft, in Palo Alto Tiny BASIC's distribution notice "@COPYLEFT ALL WRONGS RESERVED" in June 1976.
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Dr. Dobb's Journal (DDJ) was a monthly magazine published in the United States by UBM Technology Group, part of UBM. It covered topics aimed at computer programmers. When launched in 1976, DDJ was the first regular periodical focused on microcomputer software, rather than hardware. In its last years of publication, it was distributed as a PDF monthly, although the principal delivery of Dr. Dobb's content was through the magazine's website. Publication ceased at the end of 2014, with the archived website continuing to be available online.
The Open Letter to Hobbyists is a 1976 open letter written by Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, to early personal computer hobbyists, in which Gates expresses dismay at the rampant software piracy taking place in the hobbyist community, particularly with regard to his company's software.
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Dennis Allison is a lecturer at Stanford University, a position he has held since 1976.
Bob Albrecht is a key figure in the early history of microcomputers. He was one of the founders of the People's Computer Company and its associated newsletters which turned into Dr. Dobb's Journal. He also brought the first Altair 8800 to the Homebrew Computer Club and was one of the main supporters of the effort to make Tiny BASIC a standard on many early machines. Albrecht has authored a number of books on BASIC and other computer topics. He is mentioned as one of the "who's who" in Steven Levy's Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution.
Level I BASIC is a dialect of the BASIC programming language that shipped with the first TRS-80, the TRS-80 Model I.
A BASIC interpreter is an interpreter that enables users to enter and run programs in the BASIC language and was, for the first part of the microcomputer era, the default application that computers would launch. Users were expected to use the BASIC interpreter to type in programs or to load programs from storage.