The keyboard peripheral and application cartridge
|Developer(s)||Nintendo with Hudson Soft and Sharp Corporation|
|Initial release||June 21, 1984|
Family BASIC V3 / February 21, 1985
Family BASIC or Famicom BASIC is the consumer product for programming Nintendo's Family Computer video game console of Japan. 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.
The Family BASIC 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. Programs can be saved using any cassette tape drive, such as the Famicom Data Recorder. Family BASIC was not designed to be compatible with floppy disk storage on the Famicom Disk System and 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 includes a dialect of the BASIC programming language enhanced for game development. Its Microsoft BASIC-derived command set is extended with support for sprites, animation, backgrounds, musical sequences, and gamepads. 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 appear in premade Family BASIC games.
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.
In 1990, a manufacturer in Shenzhen named NEDC developed and sold a clone of the Famicom with Family BASIC in China. The first model is called FCS-90 and it combines the Famicom chipset and cartridge slot, a pair of controllers, and RF output, making it a complete console that can be used to both program and play Famicom video games. NEDC also translated the built-in software to English for FCS-90 and its revised model FCS-92.