From EDM2
(Redirected from BASIC)
Jump to: navigation, search

A subset of FORTRAN originally developed by John G. Kemény and Thomas E. Kurtz in 1964 to offer an easier programming language for beginners for the Dartmouth University time-sharing system. Basic was easy to implement and could reside in a fairly small amount of memory which made it popular with the first generation of microcomputers in the 1970's and it remained the most popular programming language on personal computers until the 1990's.

Like the FORTRAN language it is based on Basic is unstructured and therefore there is a tendency for programmers to write spaghetti code when developing in Basic, and with the variants used in microcomputers, known collectively as "Street Basic", the tendency was even greater. Awareness of this shortcoming increased in the early 80's as Basic started to come under threat in educational institutions on one hand from languages designed from ground up to teach structured programming like COMAL and on the other hand from inexpensive implementations of Pascal. Many Basic developers responded by making their variations of the language increasingly structured to a point where some of them resemble Pascal in all aspects except syntax. That was helped in no small part by the introduction of the EMCA-116 standard in the mid 80's, but as many governments require that all products bought with public money follow official standards it forced most vendors to comply, even Microsoft rushed out QBasic in response to it.

In 1990 more people knew how to program in Basic than in all other programming languages combined, however the language started to lose its popularity when GUI's became more popular but most Basic implementation had limited support for the programming models needed.

Business Basic

This is a variant of the Basic language that was developed in the latter half of the 1960's to allow minicomputers to offer a cheaper alternative to mainframe COBOL for business application development, Data General simply took Dartmouth Basic and added rudimentary file indexing features, like simplified versions of COBOL indices and other minicomputer vendors like Wang followed suit. While there are simple interpreters and compiled variants of the language, one of the classic characteristics of Business Basic was that it was interactive, making some applications developed using it strikingly different from the norm. While Business Basic is not well known in general, it really only saw any use in the USA and to a lesser degree other English speaking countries, it has been extremely tenacious in the market, a large number of specialised and vertical business applications developed using the language has ensured its survival in the PC and Unix world in much the same way COBOL still thrives on bigger computer systems.

OS/2 Implementations

Other Basic like languages

  • COMAL - A blend of Pascal and Basic, reminiscent in some ways of later structured Basic's like BBC Basic and QBasic.

Foreign libraries with bindings for Basic

  • LibcURL - Internet URL (WWW, FTP, etc) access - Open Source - Current

OS/2 text & programmers editors with Basic language support

  • Boxer - "Street Basic", Qbasic and Visual Basic" support included by default
  • BRIEF - "Street Basic", Qbasic, CBASIC, Turbo Basic and Visual Basic" support included by default, although it depends on version
  • Future Wave Editor - syntax support included by default - Shareware - Current

DOS Implementations


  • BBC Basic - Discontinued but supplied for free with the Windows version of the product.
  • BBIcon ProvideX - Business Basic - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Bywater Basic - Open source - Current.
  • Canon Basic - Discontinued - A scripting variant of this language is still used for embedded programming by Canon.
  • GW-BASIC - developed by Microsoft for DOS OEM
  • IBM PC BASIC - developed by Microsoft for IBM PC
  • Mallard BASIC PC - developed by Locomotive Software Ltd. - commercial
  • MICRO-BASIC - developed by Dave Dunfield
  • Microshare Basic - Business Basic - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Napoleon Brandy Basic - Current - Open Source
  • PBASIC - Discontinued - Aka Digital Research Personal Basic or Metacomco Basic - compatible with CP/M MBASIC
  • QBasic - introduced with MS-DOS 5, also included in OS/2 2.0 and later versions.


  • ApBasic - Shareware
  • ASIC - Shareware
  • Better Basic - Commercial - Discontinued
  • CBasic - Discontinued - First Symantec product - Distributed by DRI
  • FranzBasic - Discontinued
  • FreeBasic - Open Source GPL
  • GFA Basic - Discontinued - Free Download
  • KCML - Business Basic - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Microsoft Basic Professional - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Microsoft QuickBasic - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Microsoft Visual Basic - Discontinued. Version 1 offered DOS support.
  • MTBASIC (Softaid) - Commercial - Discontinued
  • MWBasic - Aka MB86 - Discontinued
  • Omni Basic - Commercial - Discontinued
  • PowerBasic - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Sparry Basic - Commercial - Discontinued
  • SuperSoft BASIC Compiler - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Borland Turbo Basic - Commercial - Discontinued
  • True Basic - Commercial - Discontinued. Versions up to 4.01 supported DOS.

DOS text & programmers editors with Basic language support

  • Boxer - "Street Basic", QBasic and Visual Basic support included by default.
  • BRIEF - "Street Basic", QBasic, CBASIC, Turbo Basic and Visual Basic support included by default, although it depends on version.

Win-OS/2 Implementations

  • BBIcon ProvideX - Business Basic - Commercial - Discontinued
  • CA Realizer - Discontinued. Versions 1 to 3 offer WinOS/2 support.
  • GFA Basic - Discontinued - Free Download - Limited support available from a third party.
  • KCML - Business Basic - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Liberty BASIC - Discontinued - Last version that works under WinOS/2 is 2.02
  • Microshare Basic - Business Basic - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Microsoft Basic Professional - Commercial - Discontinued - Cross development from DOS or OS/2 only.
  • Microsoft Visual Basic - Discontinued. Versions 1 to 4 offer WinOS/2 support.
  • True Basic - Discontinued. Versions up to 5.3 supported WinOS/2

Java implementations

  • BBJ - Business Basic - Commercial - Current
  • Cocoa
  • HotTEA - Discontinued
  • Instant Basic for Java - Discontinued
  • Jasic

JavaScript implementations

  • qb.js - Partially QBasic compatible, can be run inside a web browser or by using the JavaScript Desktop Enabler.




Also known as ISO 6373 or ISO 6373:1984 Data processing - Programming languages - Minimal BASIC. - The standard originated at ECMA but copies of it are still valid standards in some countries for instance as ANSI X3.60-1978 minimal BASIC in the USA, as Australian Standard AS 2797-1985 Programming language - Minimal BASIC
Like the earlier standard this originated at EMCA and while they have withdrawn it a number of international and local standard organisations still have it as current standard including ANSI X3.113-1987 "Programming Languages Full BASIC" in the USA and the international INCITS/ISO/IEC 10279-1991 (R2005) "Information Technology - Programming Languages - Full BASIC".
  • ANSI X3.113 Interpretations-1992 "BASIC Technical Information Bulletin # 1 Interpretations of ANSI 03.113-1987"
USA only addendum to the ECMA-116 standard.
  • ISO/IEC 10279:1991/ Amd 1:1994 "Modules and Single Character Input Enhancement"
Small addendum to the original ECMA-116/ISO10279 standard, no downloadable version available.