Family BASIC

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Family BASIC
keyboard peripheral and application cartridge
The keyboard peripheral and application cartridge
Developer(s) Nintendo with Hudson Soft and Sharp Corporation
Initial release June 21, 1984; 34 years ago (1984-06-21)
Stable release
Family BASIC V3 / February 21, 1985
Platform Family Computer
Type Programming language

Family BASIC or Famicom BASIC is the consumer product for programming Nintendo's Family Computer video game console of Japan. Providing a dialect of the BASIC programming language, the application cartridge was originally bundled with a computer style keyboard and instructional textbook, and requires a cassette tape recorder to save user-generated BASIC programs. Family BASIC was launched on June 21, 1984 to consumers in Japan by Nintendo, in cooperation with Hudson Soft and Sharp Corporation. A second version titled Family BASIC V3 was released on February 21, 1985, with greater memory and new features.

Several visual components seen in Nintendo games, such as backgrounds and characters from Mario and Donkey Kong series games (c. 1984-1985), are made available as Family BASIC development componentry, or have appeared in premade Family BASIC games.


Family BASIC box and its contents
Family BASIC input, output, and battery cover

Programs can be saved using the Famicom Data Recorder cassette tape drive. Family BASIC was not designed to be compatible with the Famicom Disk System. The Disk System's RAM adapter requires the use of the Famicom's cartridge slot, which prevents using the slot for the Family BASIC cartridge.

Family BASIC cannot normally be used on NES consoles because that console lacks the Famicom's 15-pin expansion port. This can be circumvented by the use of a custom I/O adapter that hooks into the otherwise unused NES Expansion Port on the bottom of the console.[1]

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