BASIC Languages

BASIC is a family of languages descended from Dartmouth BASIC that have become somewhat unpopular in recent years but which were the early foundations on which many programmers (including Jeff Atwood) built their expertise and still widely used in some areas. This page is an amalgam of information about these languages.

One variation of BASIC that is still widely used is Visual Basic .NET by Microsoft.

For a good introduction to BASIC overall, see the Wikipedia article. Also Time’s article Fifty Years of BASIC.

Currently I use QB64 for writing in BASIC. I wouldn’t recommend using True Basic due to a lack of ongoing development.

If you want to see a fairly exhaustive list of BASIC dialects (historical and modern), see the Wikipedia List of BASIC Dialects article.

Popular (Modern) BASIC Dialects

  • QB64 – Free and open source. One of its strengths is its near complete compatibility with QuickBasic/QBasic, allowing porting of legacy applications to a more modern architecture. Runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  • FreeBasic – Another free and open source dialect, it doesn’t have as strong QuickBasic/QBasic support but does have more powerful IDEs.
  • Monkey – The latest in a series of BASIC-esque languages, the earlier ones being variations of Blitzbasic.
  • True Basic – Commercial, closed source. Direct descendant of Dartmouth Basic, the language that started it all. Unfortunately, True Basic appears to be languishing.
  • PowerBASIC – Commercial, closed source. One of the longer lived and still maintained BASIC dialects.
  • wwwbasic – Free, open source, from Google (and this is its main claim to fame at the moment).
  • Xojo – Commercial, closed source. Used to be called REALbasic but they’ve tried to leave behind the negative reputation often associated with BASIC.
    • If you are looking for a contemporary, commercial option, this Xojo deserves serious consideration.

How I Started with BASIC

If for some strange reason you are interested in my nostalgic memories…

  • My first computer was a Commodore 64 and I coded in “Commodore BASIC” which was based on Microsoft’s BASIC.
  • From there I moved on to the Apple II, II+, IIe which ran “AppleSoft BASIC” which was based on the same Microsoft BASIC.
  • Eventually I acquired a DOS computer and ran QBasic.
  • In my young teen years I saved (for what seemed like forever) to purchase a copy of Visual Basic.
  • In college I taught myself VB.NET which I continued to use at various employers until 2012.
  • From there I moved to QB64 and FreeBASIC in order to convert some old QuickBasic games to Windows.