[rescue] BASIC

nate at portents.com nate at portents.com
Tue Aug 4 10:40:59 CDT 2009

> On Mon, 03 Aug 2009, Sridhar Ayengar wrote:
> But I have nothing but fond memories about hacking on those old Nova
> clones, and BITS BASIC had some *really* cool features.

No experience with that in particular, but this reminds me of something
I've been wondering lately... is there any measure of the impact of BASIC
on computing?  The reason I ask is that it wasn't until recently that I
realized that Wang 2200 series ran a microcoded interpreted BASIC
(dialects such as Wang BASIC and BASIC-2), which other companies have
since developed compilers for... I was rather shocked at the idea of
microcoding an interpreted language into a computer.

All of Microsoft's early success comes from writing and porting it's BASIC
interpreter to many computer microarchitectures, and now I'm wondering if
it was Microsoft's catering to their developers (which includes all the
vertical application "business logic" stuff written in BASIC, a lot of it
by people who aren't exactly professional developers I'm sure) that has
ensured their success as a platform.  Professionally, I still see IT
people writing VBScripts today despite it being de-emphasized, and at
least as of 2007, there were still a lot of businesses developing
applications in Visual Basic .NET[1]:

"According to Forrester Research, 37 percent of enterprises use Microsoft
Visual Basic.NET for development and maintenance of their in-house
applications. What's more, among .NET developers, 59 percent use Visual
Basic.NET as their only programming language."

It all makes me wonder if the real reason competitors (such as Mac, Amiga,
Atari, Canon Cat, etc.) to the IBM PC running MS DOS had such trouble in
the 1980s and 1990s was as much about MS BASIC and all it's badly written
(and probably poorly documented yet important) business applications, and
their "snowball effect", as it was about the rest of the platform.

Anyone have any sense of this?

- Nate

[1] http://www.linux-watch.com/news/NS5656359853.html

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