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BASIC Computer Language Turns 40 1042

5 REM nam37 codes
10 PRINT "In 1963 two Dartmouth College math professors had a radical"
20 PRINT "idea - create a computer language muscular enough to harness"
30 PRINT "the power of the period's computers, yet simple enough that even"
40 PRINT "the school's janitors could use it."
50 END
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BASIC Computer Language Turns 40

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  • by castlec ( 546341 ) <castlec AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @03:47PM (#9011132)
    10 I miss basic on TI-80 calcs.
    20 Programming in basic was my favorite thing to do in math class
    30 my freshman year.
  • WHY! WON'T! IT! DIE! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2004 @03:47PM (#9011148)
    It is practically impossible to teach good programming style to students that have had prior exposure to BASIC; as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration. -- Edsger Dijkstra

    So, I'm just curious. I've heard it claimed that BASIC was "invented" by Microsoft, or that they own it, or that their first product was a BASIC interpreter or something. Where did this story come from? What's the connection between MS and BASIC?
  • From the Jargon File (Score:5, Interesting)

    by idiot900 ( 166952 ) * on Thursday April 29, 2004 @03:48PM (#9011153)
    Alright, I'll commence the BASIC-bashing by quoting from the Jargon File:


    [acronym, from Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code] n. A programming language, originally designed for Dartmouth's experimental timesharing system in the early 1960s, which has since become the leading cause of brain-damage in proto-hackers. This is another case (like Pascal) of the cascading lossage that happens when a language deliberately designed as an educational toy gets taken too seriously. A novice can write short BASIC programs (on the order of 10--20 lines) very easily; writing anything longer is (a) very painful, and (b) encourages bad habits that will make it harder to use more powerful languages well. This wouldn't be so bad if historical accidents hadn't made BASIC so common on low-end micros. As it is, it ruins thousands of potential wizards a year.
  • AAAaaaaghhh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doesn't_Comment_Code ( 692510 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @03:48PM (#9011157)
    Damn I hated numbering each line of code!

    And when you had to add something and have uneven spacing of line numbers... Oh it just drives the type A personality in me nuts!

    The only good part about line numbers was how easy it made it to write GOTO statements.
  • Java? (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Theatetus ( 521747 ) * on Thursday April 29, 2004 @03:49PM (#9011173) Journal
    The popularity of BASIC waned as computers got more sophisticated, and newer languages were developed to take advantage of the power. Many of those languages, including the Internet's Java, have their roots in BASIC.

    That's an odd thing to say. In terms of syntax it's hard to call Java "rooted" in a non-algol language like BASIC. I guess it does share with BASIC the fact that both are marketed towards non-programmers (well, people who don't program for a living, at least).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2004 @03:50PM (#9011193)
    Don't rag on the janitors you elitist pricks.
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @03:51PM (#9011215)
    It is practically impossible to teach good programming style to students that have had prior exposure to BASIC; as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration. -- Edsger Dijkstra/

    What it really means is that the programmers won't program exactly the way Dij wants them to do. It is not "good" or "bad": just different. Programming should not be a straitjacket: the more options and the more different ways to do thing, the better. Those who think that there is no place for anything like a GOTO should look at html.

  • by the morgawr ( 670303 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @03:53PM (#9011249) Homepage Journal
    How is that so? Was B derived from basic? I'm pretty sure it wasn't. Smalltalk maybe? I thought the flow went like this:

    1. B (short for Bell, where it was written)
    2. C
    3. Objective-C (C with some smalltalk stuff added)
    4. Java
  • Ah, the memories... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Phoenix-kun ( 458418 ) * on Thursday April 29, 2004 @03:54PM (#9011284) Homepage
    I wrote my very first program in Basic on an 8K PDP-8/I computer ("Hello World!") back in 1975. We had to toggle in the bootstrap instructions using the toggle switches, load the OS from a paper tape and then finally the Basic application off the DECtape drive. I was just amazed at the possibilities and would come in on my own time just to write silly little programs.
  • by BeneathTheVeil ( 305107 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @03:56PM (#9011332) Homepage Journal
    This brings me back... the first language I ever learned to code in was C++... but before that, I had learned Qbasic. ;)

    I think it was the limited nature of the language which kept me interested in it for so long. Those DOS memory limits were fun... coding a 2D RPG, and trying to stay within around 450KB, so it would run on most people's DOS machines. It was a challenge, I tell you... and trying to keep the code neat, and tidy... also a fun challenge.

    To this day, I'm still amazed at some of the things which people were able to do with QBasic, and QuickBasic... fast raycasters, 3d polygon game engines, even voxel engines! ...but I think, the biggest fad was making console style RPGs. I'd like to think that I had a small hand in starting that fad, with a little Qbasic RPG demo I released in 1997. Some of you may have played it, it was called "Lianne in... the Dark Crown". Yes, fun times... fun times indeed.

    I think, I'll go looking for all those old Qbasic games. They may not have been much, but they were fun to play.
  • by HarveyBirdman ( 627248 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @03:58PM (#9011365) Journal
    Apple II Basic

    Atari Basic

    6502 Assembler



    Deep Blue C


    Metrowerks C

    GNU C

    Perl (just enough to make my Unix life easier)


    GNU C++

    Visual Basic


    Have I come full circle? By the time I got to C++ and VB, I was mainly programming for work, but RB has made programming fun again, and I have launched a couple personal projects for the first time in years.

    Gold bonus points if you know what Action! was.

  • Re:AAAaaaaghhh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) * <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @03:59PM (#9011374) Homepage Journal

    10 LET M$ = "Microsoft"

    And when you had to add something and have uneven spacing of line numbers

    Of course, that's why many micro BASIC dialects had a renumbering program available.

  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:00PM (#9011403)
    BASIC was always the applications and scripting language at Microsoft. For a long time, DOS and the early Windows shipped with a free basic interpreter (sadly, those days are over).

    However, all Microsoft Office programs that support Macros do ship with Visual Basic for Applications... with which you can write simple-interface BASIC programs. I've used it on several occasions in cases where I wished I had VB on a machine for a short scrappy program...
  • by Eberlin ( 570874 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:00PM (#9011413) Homepage
    Ah yes, BASIC. I remember it distinctly as it's what I used for the longest time. Didn't have to declare your variables, had to contend with line numbers (that renum thing came in very handy), and of course the ever-popular GOTO statements.

    Eventually I evolved onto qbasic with its functions and subs and (gasp) no line numbers! Then there's VB and VBA. The most fun I've had with those are the shell calls.

    On machines that are so locked down that you can't even traverse directories let alone get a shell prompt, you run your form of BASIC, and do basic shells through it or even shell to cmd.exe or -- at one point, I had a really lamed out, simple, featureless, just for fun version of netcat that executed shell commands, piped it to a text file, and had the text file's contents sent through the network. (this with VB's socket stuff). If nothing else, it was a good way to make fake Novell login prompts in the mid 90's. ;-)

    In the end, not a lot of people will be taken seriously for knowing BASIC, but since it was the first language I used, I appreciated the retro code.
  • by pete-classic ( 75983 ) <> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:04PM (#9011469) Homepage Journal
    MicroSoft's (heh) first (or at least very early) product was, indeed, a BASIC interpreter.

    IIRC the first PCs shipped with MS BASIC on ROM, which loaded if no boot disk was present. Hence "No ROM BASIC" messages once that mis-feature was removed from later PCs.

  • by markana ( 152984 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:04PM (#9011470)
    I want to moderate this +1 Nostalgic...

    You were lucky to have a DECtape - I was doing the same thing on an 8/I at the same time (74-75), and have to live with just an ASR-33 paper tape. I think I can do the RIM Loader switch sequence by muscle-memory... :-)

    It was much better moving to the PDP-11 with RSTS/e.
  • by F. Mephit ( 720161 ) <.fmephit. .at.> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:06PM (#9011500) Homepage
    I learned BASIC in 7th grade on the boxes in my public school's apple IIe room. I remember spending all of my free time during the (public school-quality) computer class trying to figure out how to write one of those 'virus' things I heard about on a BBS and since I didn't have a 'real' computer I ended up writing a really long program called "boom" on my IIe, which essentially was a sort of BASIC virus that would wipe the floppy disk (what with no hard drive and all) and save itself onto the disk under a random filename chosen from a line from my favorite band at the time. All the assignments for the class were about 30 lines long, but 'boom' was easiy 500, and everyone in the class watched me code it and were more interested in anything not related to programming "merry christmas" programs, so they happily let me run the file on all their computers. About a week after we got out for summer, the teacher called me up very angrily and wanted to know if I knew anything about why every students disk had the same program on it, with filenames like "esusbuil" and "uiltmyho", and yet nothing else. What could I say, but "Boom!" BASIC was awesome.
  • by Hexact ( 22921 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:06PM (#9011502)
    I used GWBasic to write an organization chart program back in 85. By the end, I had to strip a line of comment for each line of programming I was adding.

    All that to make it fit into 64k.

    Very painful indeed.

    BTW. it was on a Zenith Heath clone. I think it ran at 6Mhz. A real speed deamon compared to the original PC which ran at 4.77Mhz.

  • by landoltjp ( 676315 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:07PM (#9011520)
    "On some level I think it's sad that it went away," he said. "People went from being creators of software to consumers."

    I must admit that I share his lament. The programmer-to-user ratio got considerably worse as the ubiquity of computers increased.

    When I got my first computer (comment hoping skip the 'geek pissing match'), the majority of other people with computers were using them to write programs. As the PCs (now workstations) got adopted (then coopted) by 'business' for them to do their thing, the computer became a 'tool'. I never stopped programming, but all my non-geek friends started to get in on the computer-owning game. Most of them couldn't write a line of BASIC with a gun to their head, even though they have the capacity to do so, but gosh, they all thought they were just whizz-bang computer users! *sigh*

    As a colleague of mine (and a really amazing programmer) once said: "Accessibility is the yellow brick road to mediocrity"

  • by Theatetus ( 521747 ) * on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:09PM (#9011562) Journal

    No, I meant Java. There are lots of people who are not professional programmers who use Java, particularly to write applets for web pages. I brought up two common things those applets do, play sounds and rotate images.

    First year comp sci classes often use Java as their language. There's no sharp distinction (to the beginning programmer) between the language and the libraries and APIs. Sun marketed the free SDK towards individual home users. I was pointing out that in those senses (alleged ease of learning and free and widely available development kit), it's like BASIC. Syntactically, it's not at all like BASIC; it's a grandchild of Algol through-and-through.

  • BBC Micro (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:14PM (#9011648)
    Thank the lord for those old BBC micro's. Surely we all remember using them in all those science experiments. Then there was the great:

    10 *FX 200,1
    20 COLOUR RND(255)
    30 PRINT "HA HA HA!";
    40 GOTO 10

    Gem to keep anyone from doing anything constructive for a while :)
  • by rebelcool ( 247749 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:15PM (#9011669)
    I oft referenced that ASCII table well into the late 90s :)

    I learned the majority of basic programming just by following the hyperlinks in the help file. Almost every function came with a useful example program.

    The whole help system in q/quickbasic was very well done. You could point and click on a function and bring up its help entry IIRC.
  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:16PM (#9011686) Journal
    A friend of mine went to college and got an Economics degree. He then dropped out and became a buddhist hippie for a few years before landing a job as a janitor at another uni. One of the side benefits of the job was that they paid for 1 class each semester for the employees.

    He started taking classes and 5-6 years later got a Phd. in entomology. We like to joke around 'If this Phd. thing doesn't pay off you can always fall back on your experience in the janitorial field...'

    The lesson: NEVER underestimate a janitor....
  • by panurge ( 573432 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:17PM (#9011722)
    Edsger Dijkstra is all too typical of the arrogant academics who gave rise to Shaw's comment "Those who can, do, those who can't, teach. He's like the academic fanboys who argue that PostgreSQL is a real RDBMS, MySQL can't really be used for anything serious.

    Don't believe it, kids. If your brain hasn't been ruined by age 7, you can unlearn any bad habits you pick up. His remark is of a stupidity level equal to "if you learn French at school, you won't be able to learn German."

    As a matter of fact, not only did I once inherit a program that someone had written - well - on a BBC micro that was a pleasure to maintain, I once myself had to write a quick and dirty assembler for an obscure microprocessor in HP Basic, having no other resources available in a crisis. Despite which I have never once had the urge to use labels in C.

  • Re:A Poem! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chiasmus_ ( 171285 ) <ayatollah_hyperb ... om minus painter> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:19PM (#9011743) Journal
    Depends who you ask. Some think that in English, they should be 3-5-3 instead.

    No kidding. 17 syllables is a lot of room to maneuver in English... far, far less in Japanese.

    Ever try watching anime with both the English subtitle and the English dubbing turned on? A Japanese character will say something subtitled, e.g., "I'm cold" and they'll have to dub in something like, e.g., "I feel cold. It's cold in this room!" just to make the syllable count come close.
  • REALbasic (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:22PM (#9011790)
    And now, 40 years later, the easiest way to write apps for Linux (which, coincidentally, also run on Mac OS Classic, Mac OS X, and Windows) is a product called REALbasic [].

    It's not your father's BASIC. It's a great RAD environment, with a language much more heavily influenced by Python than BASIC. You can write plugins in C/C++ to make the things that need to run super fast run super fast.

    My company uses this product to build products that generate several hundred thousand in revenue per year. Our tools budget is under thousand dollars per year, mostly spent on REALbasic.

  • by Hans Lehmann ( 571625 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:22PM (#9011804)
    Let's see a show of hands, everyone. Don't be afraid to admit it. How many of you wrote your very first program in Basic?

    Mine was in the early 70's, on a ASR-33 Teletype in my high school math class that was connected via dial-up connection to some mainframe at Penn State.

    Ten characters per second on a roll of paper. with a spiffy paper-tape punch hanging on the side.

  • by darkonc ( 47285 ) <stephen_samuel@bcgr e e n . com> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:26PM (#9011878) Homepage Journal
    # REM nam37 codes
    X10: print "In 1963 two Dartmouth College math professors had a radical ";
    X20: print "idea - create a computer language muscular enough to harness ";
    X30: print "the power of the period's computers, yet simple enough that even ";
    X40: print "the school's janitors could use it.\n";
    X50: end

    # (don't ask me why I did this...)
  • by SirWhoopass ( 108232 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:29PM (#9011925)
    In the Mechanical Engineering department at the U of MN, we had a janitor who was also a computer geek. He'd always strike up a conversation with the sysadmins. He was an early linux adopter.

    When some of the workstations got switched to linux, some of the profs would bitch. They'd claim that it was too hard and too difficult to learn.

    The standard response was, "Huh. The janitor uses linux, he has no problems." That really shut the profs up.
  • by Sigh Phi ( 324315 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:31PM (#9011957)
    I was introduced to BASIC first on a friend's Apple IIe and subsequently on my own first computer, an original Macintosh.

    First programs included the standard:

    10 print "Enter your name: "
    20 input NAME$
    30 print NAME$ " is a doofus."
    40 goto 30

    About that time, I started getting 3-2-1 Contact Magazine, a science and nature periodical written for kids who had grown out of Sesame Street and The Electric Company. In the back of every issue was the "BASIC Training" feature, which had simple games and programs for a variety of platforms. The IBM versions were usually the only ones I could use; Apple IIe and Commodore 64 PEEK and POKE calls were meaningless in Mac MS-BASIC.

    But later, BASIC facilitated an (extremely sketchy) introduction to the Macintosh toolbox. MS-BASIC on the mac had built-in pseudo toolbox calls so that you could change fonts, draw graphics primitives and buttons. I ended up writing a grade tracking program that was a snare of interwoven GOTOs and GOSUBs.

    I breezed through two years of programming courses in high school and learned C in my own time. Looking back, I'm a little ticked off that my HS didn't offer "real" computer science with Pascal or C or any sort of AP treatment.

    Then I learned Perl. Now I do websites. I've forgotten most of BASIC. I have been told this is a good thing. But sometimes (actually, lately, more and more) I have to deal with VBScript and I see "LEFT" and "MID" and I think "what the hell is this crap?"

    Ah, memories.
  • Re:AAAaaaaghhh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:40PM (#9012095) Homepage
    You know, you didn't have to use numbers. Say for example, this would compile fine:

    "Compile"? In BASIC's heyday, it was almost always interpretted. The line numbers were essential because programs were usually typed interactively, line by line. Need to insert a command between lines 50 and 60? Simply type "55 PRINT NAME$" (or whatever) and the new command is inserted.

    By the way, some BASIC systems (I don't recall which of the several I used... TRS-80, Atari, DEC, GW-BASIC) had the ability to renumber your lines for you, in case you ran out of integers in a particular range.

  • Re:And then came VB (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:43PM (#9012133) Homepage Journal
    Oh yeah? Wait until you see VB.NET. That makes me want to Weep AndAlso Scream OrElse Not IsNothing(MyCSharpSkills)

    "Nothing" drives me up a wall, it's goddamn null you assholes! As do modifiers like Shared (aka static), Overridable (aka virtual), Shadows (aka new), MyBase, Me and MustOverride (aka abstract). In fact, were it not for these inscruitably obnoxious naming conventions, VB.NET would be a pretty awesome language. Sadly, it falls into the same trap as the user interface of XP: trying to solve usability issues by using more (and bigger) words. Hey guys, if you don't understand the concept behind an internal method, calling it a "Friend" method isn't going to help. At best, all you're doing is confusing those of us who already know what an internal method is (and think of a friend method as something completely different!)
  • Re:A Poem! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kale77in ( 703316 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:44PM (#9012144) Homepage
    That only *produces* a 5-7 poem, however. Where's your 'Haiku program' that ALSO outputs a Haiku? Hmmm? Well?
  • Re:Troll? Moi? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JavaLord ( 680960 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:49PM (#9012215) Journal
    GOTO's make spaghetti code. It is very hard to trace through, especially if the code is uncommented.

    Ever tried to sift through someone's OOP program that is poorly documented and methods are badly named? It's just as bad. Ever seen a method that calls six others methods in different objects in it's body which are all overloaded 5 or 6 times? Bad/Sloppy programming spans all languages and isn't confined to a goto statement.

    How about poorly named method signatures? For example

    String getNumber(String x, int i, boolean q, vector a)

    I've seen crap like this before from programmers.

    Try maintaining code full of goto's. Good luck.

    No it's not the best thing in the world to do, but if it's well documented it's not as bad as you make it out to be. I started out in basic when I was 7, and I work now as a Java programmer. I would gladly take well commented code with GOTO's over poorly done OOP code.
  • by maximilln ( 654768 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:53PM (#9012279) Homepage Journal
    I've found the quote many times.

    Are there any arguments to justify the statement?
  • QBasic (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Professr3 ( 670356 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @05:02PM (#9012398)
    If you're looking for a good version to play around with, check out QBasic 4.5 or 7.1 (off abandonware sites). It can use assembly libraries for graphics and stuff... I once wrote a windows clone using the DirectQB libraries. It can compile to .COM or .EXE too!
  • by richg74 ( 650636 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @05:17PM (#9012566) Homepage
    I think the worst program I ever saw was a BASIC program, written for an HP mini by another grad student. It was intended to sort the contents of a file. It did this by (a) using temporary workspace six times the size of the input file, and (b) destroying the input file as it went. Printed out (on a Teletype, this was the early 1970s), it was several feet long, and completely incomprehensible. But it could sort a 500-line input file in under an hour!

    The guy that wrote this masterpiece had great difficulty finding someone to help him debug it. This was partially owing to the characteristics of the program, but mostly because his personal hygeine meant no one was willing to be in the same room unless all the windows were open, and it was January in Chicago.

  • by Old Wolf ( 56093 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @05:17PM (#9012567)
    This is the same Dijkstra who advocated that programming should only be done by people with a degree in pure mathematics

  • Re:They had a dream (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bigman ( 12384 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @05:28PM (#9012682) Homepage Journal
    Actually it was DONKEY.BAS [].

  • Arithmetic goto's (Score:2, Interesting)

    by johnjaydk ( 584895 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @05:35PM (#9012764)
    You don't know what debugging is until you've tried debugging a program with arithmetic goto's:

    50 goto x*100+1000

    And of course x is a float not an integer. Ahh those were the days...

    This technique of course requires very carefull line numbering of different parts of the code but it's wicked fast and defies any attempt at reverse engineering.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2004 @06:09PM (#9013136)
    Those who blast BASIC in its incarnations should check out what the boys at Dartmouth did to the language. TrueBasic is a very rendition that handles graphics, matix math and even OOP with good programming practices. I have used it for image analysis work and its pretty powerful
  • Re:A Poem! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alkaiser ( 114022 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @06:16PM (#9013208) Homepage
    Hi? Informal? Would be "Ossu". (Pronounced "oas".) "Hi" also works. Most of the other forms of greeting incorporate other infomation, like time, etc.

    Thank you is just, "Arigato".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2004 @06:33PM (#9013393)
    I'm sure many of you remember messing around with QBASIC, the free version of QuickBASIC that was distributed with MS-DOS.

    There's currently a petition running online to get Microsoft to release all their BASIC compilers as freeware. Please help support the hobbyists by signing the petition! :) []
  • by hiroshi912681 ( 589840 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @06:38PM (#9013433)
    last week, Office Max had a sale on these Casio graphing calculators (usually about $80) for $5. I picked up one, naturally. I should've picked up more. You never know when you'll run into some problem that BASIC could easily solve. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to convert minutes to hours:minutes format with it... for the program I'm working on.

    When I vacationed in Canada a few years ago, I took my TI-83 to convert currency and measurements for me. But, I found an even bigger need during the trip... converting CDN$ per litre of "petrol" to USD per gallon of gas. Things made a lot more sense at the pump.

  • by screwballicus ( 313964 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @06:49PM (#9013556)
    But none will offer anything but the verbatim dronings of their professors, which they seem to feel are gods. Forgive my condescending chuckle.

    I think you'll find that literary critical academics are well aware of the preferences of certain languages for certain poetic techniques.

    Hexameter (six stress verse) is considered wonderful in French early modern poetry, and almost always terrible in English early modern poetry (Sidney uses it, but his hexameter isn't given particularly great credit).

    Quantitative measure is considered to have worked wonderfully in classical Greek, but is accepted as essentially impossible in English (Coleridge semi-successfully attempted it in Christabel).

    A Petrarchan sonnet's composition in English is an exercise in frustration and a Shakespearean sonnet's structure in Italian uncomfortably abrupt.
  • by os2fan ( 254461 ) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @07:40PM (#9014001) Homepage
    All versions of OS/2 and Windows NT/2K/XP ships with a copy of qbasic 1.0, while DOS 6, and windoze ME/9x ship with qbasic 1.1.

    All of these can be started as an editor, eg QBASIC / EDCOM

    On the other hand, only vers 1.1 can read the dos help file HELP.HLP.

    Amusingly, Windows understands what a QHELP file is, that if you click on a quickbasic help file, it says 'this is a DOS help file', whereas any other help file (eg 4dos.hlp), it says "unknown format".

    In any case, basic shipped with msdos, because in older times, computers had a rom-basic in their bios.

    GWBASIC is a standalone emulator for graphical workstations (ie workstations that replaced the rom-basic with video memory).

    BASIC in its raw form continues to affect the way that COMMAND.COM and CMD.EXE work. For example, if one does a test, and it is false, the rest of the line is skipped. In the sample below, we see two statements, separated by an &. If one makes the if statement, one gets neither command, while if the statement is true, both work.

    if "1"=="1" echo 1 & echo 2
    One can implement a die style command by this, or by replacing echo with set, pass a parameter to a subroutine.
    if (condition) echo something & goto :end
    In any case, it's dodgy.
  • 1001 Things (Score:2, Interesting)

    by arunkv ( 116142 ) <{slashdot} {at} {}> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:36PM (#9014852) Homepage
    When I was playing around with BASIC a long time ago, besides the details GWBASIC manuals from Microsoft, the other book that I really enjoyed was 1001 Things To Do With Your IBM PC []. That book described so many things that could be done with BASIC. Best of all, it was not a listing of complete programs but rather tools and program snippets combined with ideas for building cool programs.
  • The BASIC of our age (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kris ( 824 ) <> on Friday April 30, 2004 @02:26AM (#9016333) Homepage
    The is the 21st century. The BASIC of our age is PHP.

    Many people are making their first ventures into the world of programming by renaming a .html file to .php and carefully inserting their first PHP tag into it. "Hello, world" often is or for many.

    Any not just young people - buy webspace, get PHP is the standard now over here, and why not try it, if it is so simple.

    Rasmus, Zeev and Andy, they really deserve much good karma for creating the language that made web programming accessible to so many.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.