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!


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 (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.


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


The Essentials

Everything Else


Product NameCompanyPriceNotes
BlitzBasicBlitz ResearchFREE
Just BASICShoptalk SystemsFREELittle sibling to Liberty Basic.
Liberty BASICShoptalk Systems$60 or $120Windows App Development.
Cheesecake BASICNoktosoftFREECompatible with QuickBASIC, can be compiled in PowerBASIC.
PowerBASICPowerBASIC$99 to $199DOS version compatible with QuickBASIC.
Run BASICShoptalk Systems$60Web App Development.
XojoXojo$99 to $1,999Formerly REALbasic.

Historic Basics

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

Other Links

3 thoughts on “BASIC”

  1. Have you run across anything, free or pay, that will compile PDS7.1 for 32bit [or 64bit] ? Simply running apps in a 16bit Emulator does work to a limited extent, but it can be a RPITA at best. With all of the PDS code out there I find it amazing that there was no successor to PDS. As you’ve stated, QB64 is available, and I do use it for all new tasks, but it is limiting for many of my requirements, as well as an enormous task to convert most of my graphics code. As an alternative, is there a non Herculean method of moving PDS 7.1 to any VB type environment that is 32bit [or 64bit]. I have futzed with PowerBASIC, specifically the Windows 6.04 version, but it does not fit my needs either. I can say that the sales people at PowerBASIC were upfront honest that it would be a task to convert my code, they did not understate the issues.

  2. Dave, as I stated, QB64 is ok for new tasks, just not for porting my existing PDS. Quite frankly, it sucks at porting PDS that uses any kind of independant text or graphics windows. And no, PDS 7.1 is not essentially QB, it’s QB on steroids. PDS is a Superset of QuickBasic. I’ve also found some differences in Double Precision math, basically binary runnoff errors. FreeBasic, well, it’s free. I’ve looked a FreeBasic several times, never found a use for my needs. Just tried it again, and it annoys my AV for some reason that makes me look sideways at it, so it’s on a standalone box while I’m futzing with it. I’ll get back to you on that evaluation.

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