BASIC

Introduction

As a child one of my first computers was an Apple II which booted directly to the command line…which in turn was also your development environment.

This was followed by a Commodore 64 and more Apple computers (II+, IIe). All of these used primitive Basic versions.

When I moved to a DOS PC and later a Windows PC I gained experience with QBasic eventually moving on to Visual Basic (skipping over QuickBasic, PDS, and VB for DOS) and then to VB.NET.

Even though the world seems to have largely moved on from Basic languages and insists on the superiority of C/Java-esque languages there is still a great fondness in my heart for Basic (and thankfulness to Microsoft for continuing to provide VB.NET, a stand-out in a sea of curly cues).

This page is a shrine to Basic – as it has been, is now, and one day will be. Enjoy!

QuickBasic

I know this is heresy, but I am going to arbitrarily begin with QuickBasic (QB). All the earlier variations I am going to ignore…and in fact, when I speak of QuickBasic I am going to meld unacceptably together QuickBasic, QBasic, and PDS…but before I do so, let me define them separately

  • QuickBasic (QB) is the popular Microsoft language many DOS applications were developed in.
  • QBasic is a stripped down version of QuickBasic included with Microsoft’s Disk Operating System (DOS).
  • PDS is Professional Development System, the successor to QuickBasic.
  • Visual Basic for DOS is the final BASIC version written by Microsoft for DOS.

QuickBasic Compatible

Microsoft left QB developers in a bit of a lurch when it abandoned its DOS IDE/compiler and moved entirely to Windows. While some code could run without change in Visual Basic for Windows there was also a lot Visual Basic didn’t handle – and didn’t provide an easy migration path from QB to VB – especially in the arenas of graphics and sound.

A number of companies offer varying levels of compatibility with QB. Here I’m going to only include those which provide a high level of compatibility, not just tools or tutorials on how to convert from QB to their particular language.

FreeBasic

FreeBasic (see also Wikipedia) offers a high level of compatibility with QB when run in QB language mode, has several nice Windows-based IDE’s. Currently release is 0.90.1, but don’t let the conservative versioning fool you – this software is under regular development, stable, and full-featured.

QB64

In my experience, QB64 (see also Wikipedia) offers a higher level of compatibility with QB than FreeBasic, but its IDE is essentially a clone of the QB IDE – in other words, extremely antiquated. Oftentimes you are better off using the QB IDE due to some of its more advanced features.

Sites to Visit

QuickBasic

The Essentials

Everything Else

BASICs

Product Name Company Price Notes
BlitzBasic Blitz Research FREE
Just BASIC Shoptalk Systems FREE Little sibling to Liberty Basic.
Liberty BASIC Shoptalk Systems $60 or $120 Windows App Development.
Cheesecake BASIC Noktosoft FREE Compatible with QuickBASIC, can be compiled in PowerBASIC.
PowerBASIC PowerBASIC $99 to $199 DOS version compatible with QuickBASIC.
Run BASIC Shoptalk Systems $60 Web App Development.
Xojo Xojo $99 to $1,999 Formerly REALbasic.

Historic Basics

  • Beta BASIC – A successor to Sinclair BASIC that would in turn be succeeded by SAM Basic.

Other Links

  1. [1]I’m not sure whether this is technically legal. Microsoft however has not taken any action to force the removal of these applications and they have resided here publicly for years.
  2. [2]The forum is fairly dead, but probably contains some great nuggets for solving various programming dilemmas.
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