The BASIC Programming Language
17 February 2021, Wednesday

To continue our theme of programming languages, today we'd like to tell you about BASIC.

BASIC is the oldest programming language and belongs to the family of high-level programming languages. BASIC, an acronym of Beginner's All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code, is a universal symbolic instruction code for beginners. It is an educational programming language.

In 1964, Thomas Kurtz and John Kameni (of Dartmouth College) created a specialized programming language that consisted of simple English words.
The language turned out to be so simple and understandable that after a while they began to use it in other educational institutions. BASIC was designed so that students with no special mathematical education could write programs to achieve their objectives.

A Description of the Language

The language was originally invented for teaching purposes, so its constructions are as simple as possible. The language syntax is similar to that of Fortran, and many of its elements are similar to the latter. Command keywords are, as in many other programming languages, taken from the English language: print, let, next, read.

A computer program written in the BASIC language is made up of a numbered list of commands that consist of keywords. The computer executes the program by performing the commands from this list in sequence.
BASIC can easily perform all the usual arithmetic operations, and also allows you to automatically calculate the values of common mathematical functions.

Advantages of the language:

  • It is the simplest of all programming languages.
  • It has simple syntax that allows you to learn the language very quickly.
  • It allows apps with a graphical interface for MS Windows to be created quickly.

Disadvantages of the language:

  • It only supports operating systems of the Windows and Mac OS families.
  • It is slow to work with.
  • It has a multitude of versions, called "language dialects." Almost every computer has its own version. Each new version is characterized by a slightly modified set of commands and, according to the developers, is more powerful than the previous ones. All this means that programs written in BASIC are not portable and can only be used on the machine for which they were written.

BASIC was given a new lease on life with the appearance of Visual Basic from Microsoft in 1991. This language resembled the original only in terms of its syntax, but it was much more modern. Visual Basic and its variants have become one of the most widely used languages on the Windows platform. Later, a version called WordBasic was created, which was used in MS Word until Word 97 was released.

BASIC is currently used as a stand-alone language for the development of application programs, mainly those that run on various versions of the Windows OS. It is often used as a built-in language for application software systems for various purposes and as a language for programmable calculators.

Interesting facts

In 1975, a young programmer named Paul Allen, together with his student Bill Gates (of Harvard University), wrote a program that implemented the BASIC language for the Altair 8800 microcomputer. They first used it for personal computer software. Subsequently, Gates and Allen founded their own firm, Microsoft.

Here are a few suggestions for selected books about Visual Basic:

  • Visual Basic For Kids: A Step by Step Computer Programming Tutorial.

This book is a step-by-step guide to Visual Basic for kids. It consists of 10 chapters with simple, clear, and easy terms for creating an app for Windows using Visual Basic.  

  • The Best VB Book For Beginners.

This book is intended for beginners who are learning the basics of programming and Visual Basic syntax. It is also suitable for specialists with a non-technical education.