Richard Bucker

Open Source Basic

Posted at — May 23, 2020

Rich Turner posted an interesting article about MS opensourcing GW-Basic. That’s pretty cool. What is fun about the article is that it’s pretty much a shared memory. I have many of the same memories. My first real computer was a TRS-80 and I only got really interested in programming after my dad deleted my first program by accident while trying to save it to cassette tape.

BASIC is just that basic but over the years Microsoft has added to it’s capability. They used the syntax in everything including it’s spreadsheets. And frankly they missed the boat. Consider tsomething Uncle ‘Bob’ Martin said about programming languages… we seem to be still looking for the perfect language when it might have already been there.

One reason that tcl, lua, BASIC and lisp are as popular as they are it’s because the compilers and interpreters are small enough to fit into a circa 1970s PC which did not have a lot of RAM. And it was functional in that we all got a ton of work done. Also while we were not doing much in the way of parallel computing it was possible with OS extensions.

My concern for the future of software and my profession is that while the number of programmers doubles every 5 years (per Bob) we, as professionals, are not making good decisions… and we are not promoting the best. Things are getting sloppy and we are losing intellectual property as we go. I’m reminded of the 2020 pandemic where there was a paycheck panic because the system was written in COBOL. Frankly that sounds like a crap explanation.

knowing what I know about systems… printing one more check or 1M more checks should not have cause COBOL any problems.

BTW COBOL and Fortran compilers were also not very complicated. The standards were pretty clear.

Just about any editor’s color syntaxer is sufficient as a pre-compiler/linter.

In closing; I wonder how many BASIC programs have been shelved?