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Former good article BASIC was one of the Engineering and technology good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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November 27, 2005 Peer review Reviewed
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October 18, 2008 Good article reassessment Delisted
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Peter Fedorow[edit]

I removed the following sentence from the article: Based on an article originally written for Nupedia by Peter Fedorow <>, licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. As far as I can tell there has never been an article on BASIC on Nupedia (neither finished, in-progress or on the chalkboard). —R. Koot 21:30, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
Yeah thats true since there's no mention of BASIC at , I also removed this reference from Wikipedia:Nupedia_and_Wikipedia article. 13:40, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
Oops, my apologies for reverting you since it seems you may be right; however, the claim of a link goes back as far as it's possible to know: the earliest (surviving) version of this page. OTOH, that version only claims it was written for Nupedia, not on it - maybe it was never actually submitted, and it was the author who put it here, rather than someone using the GFDL? All a bit academic, I know, but kinda interesting, in a vague way... - IMSoP 13:51, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
This seems to be the most likely explanaition. I'll try to contact him. —Ruud 13:59, 17 January 2006 (UTC)


This page looks like a tetris game. The images are all either blue or black blocks, in a uniform size. It could do with some morevaried sizes, and more main sections with less subsections. MichaelBillington 05:23, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

Hello World[edit]

Does anyone besides me think there should be a Hello World program listed on this article that is not just an image?

10 PRINT "Hello World"

Or for some people:

10 PRINT "Hello World"
20 GOTO 10

'FLaRN' (talk) 18:17, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

About a footnote[edit]

Footnote 1 says "The acronym is tied to the name of an unpublished paper by Thomas Kurtz and is not a backronym, as is sometimes suggested." Says who? We can't just make an assertion like that without a verifiable source. 01:53, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

Oh we can as long as no one contests it. However since you have now done so we'll need to provide one. -- Derek Ross | Talk 06:06, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

Object-oriented versus High-Level[edit]

Correct me if I'm wrong, But BASIC is not Object-oriented although it is a high level language? Complex-Algorithm-Interval 02:45, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

Dartmouth BASIC was originally devised as a "high-level language" in 1964. During the early 1970s, structuring keywords were added to it and Dartmouth BASIC version 7 became a "structured programming language" (although you might not have noticed since a lot of clones of mid-1960s BASIC were written during the late 1970s and 1980s). During the 1990s, object-programming keywords were added to (Visual) BASIC and it became an object-based (somewhat object-oriented) language. Since 2003, VB.NET has appeared. It is a fully object-oriented version of BASIC. So we are now in the position where some dialects of BASIC are object-oriented, some are object-based, some are structured, and some are just high-level. So your statement is right for some versions of BASIC and wrong for others. -- Derek Ross | Talk 06:20, 11 August 2007 (UTC)
Just an aside: Languages become object-oriented when they provide language support for object-oriented programming, so that the programmer doesn't have to build the structures. It was possible to do Object-Oriented or Structured or Functional programming in BASIC,C or Pascal. And people did so: OO languages weren't created Ex-Novo.
There were many large commercial projects written in BASIC when the language was popular, and some of them used complex program structures and techniques. For example, a v-table is a data structure used to support dynamic dispatch in some object-oriented languages. Programmers used to create their own v-tables in C,Pascal or BASIC, to support their v-table based objected-oriented programs. Before object oriented languages became available, BASIC was particularly suited for building Object-Oriented or Functional programs because most BASICS inherently supported Dynamic Dispatch.
I think that BASIC was particularly un-suited for bulding Object-Oriented or Functional programs because the resulting program was almost un-inteligable without external documentation. But I think that C++ programs are uninteligable too, so maybe it's just me, not the programs. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:10, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
Good points which I agree with. -- Derek Ross | Talk 06:23, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

Popularity Today[edit]

The article states that BASIC "remains popular to this day in a handful of heavily evolved dialects". If you mean VB AND VB.NET this is obvious. For other “modern versions” such as Quickbasic that still have line numbers etc this needs documentation. COBOL is still around a lot in large corporate mainframe type machines. The article needs to state outside of the VB world where and how BASIC is used in 2007 Edkollin 16:21, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

Only place that I can think of outwith the VB dialects, is PIC microcontrollers eg the BASIC Stamp. -- Derek Ross | Talk 18:48, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
Lotus Notes (installed base 130,000,000 seats) incorporates a BASIC dialect that is called LotusScript. In addition to being the basis for countless applications written by IBM Lotus' customers, a great deal of the front-end functionality of Notes' built-in mail and calendaring system is implemented in it. Rhsatrhs 00:40, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Y'all apparently forgotten about the various timesharing BASICs that were developed in the 1970's for minicomputer use (e.g., MAI Business Basic, Wang Basic, etc.). A lot of that code is still in use and probably will continue to be so for many years. BTW, in the 1980's, companies such as Basis International and Thoroughbred were founded to port the MAI style business BASIC into UNIX. I still do some development with Thoroughbred's package (which is "semi-compiled" T-code). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:02, August 28, 2007 (UTC)

Visual Basic also has line numbers.--Dojarca 14:43, 1 October 2007 (UTC)
As does QuickBASIC ... but having used the latter and assuming the former to be similar (as AFAIK its somewhat of a continuation of the same product line), they're not essential. I've seen enough QB programs, including nearly all of the included example files, that forego them completely, and just use text labels and seperate modules if they need to jump to a certain section (talk) 16:41, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

Visual Basic[edit]

Does it include the different/similarities between Basic and Visual Basic? Visual Basic has totally different commands, although the first BASIC versions had relatively the same keywords. Complex-Algorithm 00:49, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Not totally different - this is easy to overstate. Visual Basic includes If, Then, For, Next, Goto, Dim, Int, Asc, Len, End, Stop, Rem. VB 1-6 had no console-mode support, so it's natural enough that Print and Input were missing (having said that, Print was still possible for files, for the debug object, and if used with a form object, Form1.Print, and Input was also possible with a file number). VB.NET (version 7 onwards) reintroduced console mode but without Print and Input (although again, they can be used for file I/O, but with slightly different syntax from before). All versions of VB, even .NET, allow optional type-declaration characters such as % and $ to be appended to variables. VB 1-6 allow Str$, Chr$, Left$ alongside Str, Chr, Left - in .NET the $ is dropped completely. All versions have VB have exactly the same mathematical operators (+, -, *, /, \, Mod, ^) as earlier versions of MS Basic. All versions of VB, even 2008 beta, allow optional line numbers to be entered at the start of lines, albeit VB only allows them on certain lines, not all. VB 1-6 include While, Wend, Gosub, Return. VB 7 onwards have While / End While and drop Gosub. -- (talk), 22:37, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
VBA 5 and 6 have console support and "print" coommand as well. Probably and VB have.--Dojarca 14:37, 1 October 2007 (UTC)
Well said. VB and other BASIC dialects have far more in common with each other than they do with other languages. It still makes sense to think of VB as one more dialect of BASIC -- even the .NET variant. -- Derek Ross | Talk 22:44, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
VB3 has "console-not-console" support: Print prints to the surface of a form. I don't think that Win 3.x had any console support, so this was a resonable approach. (talk) 04:51, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
VB before .NET never really had true console support, even under Win32 where it was avaiable. PRINT in VB6 still printed to a form (unless otherwise specified, and stdout was not an option). -- int19h (talk) 21:02, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Modern BASIC[edit]

The example shown here as an example of "modern Basic" is not a modern basic in fact. It is a Basic of second generation (structured) while VisualBasic and StarBasic are basic systems of 3rd genegarion (object).--Dojarca 14:34, 1 October 2007 (UTC)

Alternate version of Visual Basic .NET version of example[edit]

Option Explicit Off
Module stars
    Sub Main()
10:     Console.Write("What is your name: ")
15:     U$ = Console.ReadLine
20:     Console.WriteLine("Hello " + U$)
30:     Console.Write("How many stars do you want: ")
35:     N = Val(Console.ReadLine)
40:     S$ = ""
50:     For I = 1 To N
60:         S$ = S$ + "*"
70:     Next I
80:     Console.WriteLine(S$)
90:     Console.Write("Do you want more stars? ")
95:     A$ = Console.ReadLine
100:    If Len(A$) = 0 Then GoTo 90
110:    A$ = Left$(A$, 1)
120:    If A$ = "Y" Or A$ = "y" Then GoTo 30
130:    Console.Write("Goodbye ")
140:    For I = 1 To 200
150:        Console.Write(U$ + " ")
160:    Next I
170:    Console.WriteLine()
180:    End
    End Sub
End Module

Madlobster 15:53, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

You do not need to separate line numbers with colon. VB supports line numbers as well.--Certh 13:33, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

I didn't type them. Visual Studio 2008 put them there automatically.Madlobster 21:26, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Historical Context?[edit]

Historical context:
      Late Seventies through early Eighties
It must be understood that the computing experience in the late 1970s through the late eighties was one continually limited by insufficient memory resources, as RAM was very expensive and typical usage was limited to text-based programs which used less memory than most medium resolution image files in today's graphical environments.

The eighties were marked by a remaking of the industry almost top to bottom about every three years or so — today's hot company fading into obscurity almost overnight, albeit kicking and screaming. The cumulative mortality rate amongst the companies which led the way in the PC revolution — and no term was ever so apt, as life post-revolution is very different — was very high: the majority of all such companies came and went in a few years. Industry standards too, were frequently being set today and being discarded tomorrow after falling behind the next big advance. Through all the turmoil (and excitement), two constants emerged: better PCs which were a little IBM incompatible (e.g. see Z-100, Commodore PET, VIC-20 Apple IIe, and many others) failed "commercially" (meaning in the business world, though some eked out an existence in home computing) and went away; and the winner gradually became not the IBM architecture which stabilized, but the MS-DOS/PC-DOS and eventual Windows operating systems which knitted the industry together.

Before the PC
(The PC debuted in 1981)

Because memory chips were very expensive, 8-bit computers did not have the capacity to run a memory intensive compiler-linker program. Even commercial developers were dependent upon machine-language coding and relatively crude native assemblers (see MASM, the advanced and much more capable Macro-assembler that eventually evolved). Even these simple programs still had problems with memory ceilings and file size limitations. Floppy disks were limited to about 360 kilobytes, and held not only source code files, but executable files a system needed as well.

The only compilers in existence for microprocessors were cross-compilers, programs written on a computer (usually a minicomputer — or an even more powerful computer) that compiled non-native code for another computer platform. Native compilers became feasible only in the late days of the heyday of the IBM/AT machines when memory ceilings of around 512 kilobytes became affordable. With the advent of the 80386-based PC compatibles, many other compiled languages became available on microcomputers $mdash; provided memory was double (or better) the typical 128k or 256k RAM sold with most PCs.

I believe that the entire premise of this section is factually incorrect.

I.e., The key sentences are:

- "Because memory chips were very expensive, 8-bit computers did not have the capacity to run a memory intensive compiler-linker program."

- "The only compilers in existence for microprocessors were cross-compilers"

- "Native compilers became feasible only in the late days of the heyday of the IBM/AT machines when memory ceilings of around 512 kilobytes became affordable."

Those assertions are simply not true. In 1980 (i.e., before the first IBM PC was available, not to mention years before the AT), I was using Leor Zolman's C compiler known as BDS C, running it on a microcomputer known as the Intertec Superbrain. This was a dual Z-80 system (the second Z-80 was used as an i/o controller) with just 64K of RAM. I also recall using the Digital Research PL/1 compiler (known as "PL/1-80") on that same machine. And although I was not a user of it, I think that the Mark Williams Company C compiler was also used on IBM PCs well before the AT was available, and possibly the Lattice and Whitesmiths compilers. And Microsoft C was certainly available before the "late days" of the AT, if not even before the AT shipped.

Frankly, I'm leaning toward deleting this entire section. Perhaps it can be re-worked to emphasize that compilers were infeasible on microcomputers in lower-end configurations used by many typical hobbiests... but I don't really see what value that fact adds to this article. Rhsatrhs (talk) 03:06, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

I think deletion is the best idea. I was not happy with this section either. -- Derek Ross | Talk 04:57, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Done. Text pasted here in case anyone wants to try to make something better from it.Rhsatrhs (talk) 02:41, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

A Bit of History sidebar[edit]

A bit of history
Microsoft BASIC (also known then, and most widely as M BASIC) which was soon bundled with IBM-PC computers among personal computer afficionados—at the time, PC's were the exclusive realm of hobbyists, researchers, and enthusiasts like the Home Brew computer club) and because it was written so that it would be easy to convert to different operating systems—soon started appearing on other platforms under license; when International Business Machines approached Gates, they wanted his BASIC, not his operating system—CPM was the OS standard in that day on PC's. The battle for CP/M versus MSDOS raged fiercely in the small computer industry for several years, but the marketing weight and respect of the DOS used by IBM gradually tipped the industry to DOS.[1]

In addition to the "Historical Context", I removed this box from the article and dropped it here. The first sentence makes no sense. In fact it should be several sentences, but how they relate to each other and what point they are trying to make is a mystery.

Dartmouth College[edit]

I have given a fuller description of the location so as to avoid confusion with —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:29, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

If they want to know where it is, they can click on the link. It's, at best, a parenthetical description, and probably should not be in the article at all. — Arthur Rubin | (talk) 16:43, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
I disagree. If it remains there is nothing wrong with a proper description, in fact it helps. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:46, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

GA Reassessment[edit]

This discussion is transcluded from Talk:BASIC/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the reassessment.

Symbol unsupport vote.svg In order to uphold the quality of Wikipedia:Good articles, all articles listed as Good articles are being reviewed against the GA criteria as part of the GA project quality task force. While all the hard work that has gone into this article is appreciated, unfortunately, as of October 18, 2008, this article fails to satisfy the criteria, as detailed below. For that reason, the article has been delisted from WP:GA. However, if improvements are made bringing the article up to standards, the article may be nominated at WP:GAN. If you feel this decision has been made in error, you may seek remediation at WP:GAR.

  • The article is almost entirely without inline citations, as is required by 2b of the good article criteria.
  • There has been a request for citation in place since June.
  • There are external links in the body of the article. External links should only appear in an External links section.
  • The prose needs some attention. For instance:
    • "As the popularity of BASIC on CP/M spread, newer computer designs also introduced their own version of the language, or had Micro-Soft port version to their platform."
    • "Third generation BASIC dialects such as Visual Basic and StarOffice Basic introduced features to support object-oriented and event-driven programming paradigm."
    • "Most built-in procedures and functions now represented as methods of standard objects rather than operators."
  • The article confuses object-based BASIC with object-oriented BASIC.

--Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 20:04, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

  1. ^ Freiberger, Paul and Michael Swaine. Fire in the Valley The making of the Personal Computer. Osborne/McGraw Hill, Berkeley, CA, 1984. A fascinating look at the 1970's and the hobbyists who created the personal computer and the p.c. industries. "The fire of the p.c. revolution broke out in many places... but nowhere did the fire spread as it did in Silicon Valley,the center of high tech development in California. This is the history of that revolution in the Valley and elsewhere. 

What's the difference between RAM and memory?[edit]

"Newer computer systems supported time-sharing, a system which allows multiple users or processes to use the RAM and memory"

But... RAM stands for Random Access Memory. In other words, RAM is Memory.

Shouldn't it be "processor and memory" (or "CPU and RAM")? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:58, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

Yes, RAM is memory... and ROM is memory, and Core is memory, and disc is memory and drum is memory. Computers of that era had an extremely limited amount of electronic RAM, a slightly larger amount of Core (magnetic RAM) and a much larger amount of disc- or drum-based virtual memory. Disc and drum can simulate RAM when used with paging hardware but they're not exactly RAM themselves. So RAM is always memory but memory is not always RAM. -- Derek Ross | Talk 05:28, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

Text Clash[edit]

On my computer, at the top of the History section the "[Edit]" text overlaps the word "special-", pushed there I think, by the image. I don't know how to fix this, so I'm mentioning it here. Dinoceras (talk) 09:32, 9 November 2009 (UTC)


Why does the first screenshot show Atari Basic and not the famous C64 Basic start screen? (talk) 10:13, 6 December 2009 (UTC)

They're all famous. We tossed a coin and picked one. -- Derek Ross | Talk 16:25, 6 December 2009 (UTC)

Discussion of revert to "Basic Culture and Computing Culture"[edit]

"The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—that is, whether readers are able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether we think it is true."

The Dijkstra quote is well-known, and verifiable; the evolution of Basic culture and its nonuse for most systems programming is verifiable in many histories of the field (a "cite" should not be provided for well-documented material that is verified elsewhere).

The Nilges book, which describes a compiler-interpreter for Quick Basic written in .Net Basic, is I think worthy for inclusion because it's the exception that proves the rule. But it needs a cite, and a cite was provided.

Trouble is you're repeating stuff that's already in the article. We already mention Dijkstra's quote. So why mention it again ? As for the non-use of BASIC for systems programming, well, everyone used or uses C for systems programming don't they ? So BASIC is only one of many languages (most of them in fact) not intended for systems programming. So again, why mention it? Surely it makes more sense to mention that a language is intended for systems programming than that it isn't since that is the exceptional case. In any case, whatever the initial intention, BASIC has been and still is used for systems programming in a very few situations, including the occasional creation of systems programming tools. For instance STAMP controllers have been around for twenty years plus, PowerBASIC for almost that long. The use of BASIC for systems programming is easily verifiable. QuickBASIC itself has been used for systems programming including for writing its own compiler (check out XBASIC or Freebasic both of which are extended QuickBASIC compilers written in extended QuickBASIC), so the fact that somebody has used .NET Basic to compile a subset of QuickBASIC isn't particularly interesting, far less some sort of exception. It actually sounds to me as if you're spamming the article to plug the Nilges book (although I realise that that's unlikely given the age of the book) and I'd support removing your additions from the article on that basis alone, never mind the duplication of already existing info. -- Derek Ross | Talk 07:12, 3 January 2010 (UTC)
By the way, I just checked and you got the Dijkstra quote wrong. He said that "The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offence". So, wrong language. Please try reading the article and all of its footnotes before making any more changes. If you had already done so, you would have been able to discover what Dijkstra really said about BASIC. -- Derek Ross | Talk 08:34, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

Birth Date[edit]

The article contradicts itself on the year BASIC was first developed: 1963 vs. 1964. Kdammers (talk) 10:26, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

NON-FREE Image use in this article.[edit]

There is an overuse of non-free images. Considering 3 of the 4 images only have 1 letter difference in the entire image, I doubt these all qualify for non-free use in the article, and the last is just a different version name. One image would be enough to give a basic idea of the IBM BASIC. Unless anyone can point out an outstanding reason for having four images which can be condensed in to one image, 3 of the 4 can be removed. SpigotWho? 14:28, 7 May 2010 (UTC)


The VB.NET sample is not very good. It could be compacter. But editing the sample is not possible. A lot of HTML commands (see wiki source) makes editing the sample impossible. :-( --Filzstift (talk) 10:23, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

The early days of BASIC[edit]

I think GE Commercial Time-Sharing deserves at least an acknowledgement. I was involved in it at the very beginning. The Dartmouth BASIC ran on what was called a GE-265 computer which was, in fact, a GE-235 computer working with a device called, if memory does not fail me, a Datanet 30. I believe that the Datanet was developed for telephone switching. It made the time-sharing possible. GE bought the rights to use the Dartmouth design and went into the commercial time-sharing businees. But before they went public they rebuilt the system to make it sturdy enough to use commercially.

The original setup was a compiler. The input-output system was punched paper tape. So people would write their programs offline and put them on punched paper tape. Then paper tape was fed in at the user's console (a teletype), compiled and run. Output, if any, was punched out at the teletype.

After GE got the program four of us entirely rewrote it in a couple of months. I did the computational part of the compiler. The GE-235 was a very weird computer and programming for it (in its machine language, of course) was a strange experience. The original Dartmouth implementation was, to put it politely, student term papers. I cannot believe the time trials mentioned in the text were run on the real original BASIC - I suspect nobody knew that GE had completely rewritten it. GE kept calling their BASIC Dartmouth BASIC for quite some time. It is entirely possible that GE management was not aware it had been rewritten.

DKleinecke (talk) 20:28, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

Maturity: the personal computer era[edit]

The section Maturity: the personal computer era is far below any acceptable standard:

1. BASIC's fortunes reversed once again with the introduction of Visual Basic by Microsoft.
yeah! (Except a little too heroically written: "fortunes")
2. It is somewhat difficult to consider this language to be BASIC[neutrality is disputed], because of the major shift in its orientation towards an object-oriented and event-driven perspective[citation needed].
no and no: it wasn't object-oriented and so it is in fact very easy to consider,
3. The only significant similarity to older BASIC dialects was familiar syntax.
which uses to define a programming language, and as far as I can remember, it executed as a BASIC too, and so was a good-old BASIC, except cleaned up and tidied for some structured programming,
4. Syntax itself no longer "fully defined" the language, since much development was done using "drag and drop" methods without exposing all code for commonly used objects such as buttons and scrollbars to the developer.
which is the worst garbage in the section: a programming language is defined by its syntax, not by any happenstance IDE - if it were, gcc perusing emacs and gmake would be quite another language than gcc perusing gedit and another make, but in fact gcc is C, whatever IDE/editor/make system that is used.

There's certainly more, but the text needs to be on level with computer science, not an amateur BASIC-only heroic saga. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 20:45, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

Forgot to say: this refers to VB before VB.NET, which was what the section was about. VB.NET is allegedly better, so maybe it is. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 20:47, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
The VB compiler understands the syntax of FRM files. The QuickBASIC compiler doesn't. The VBDOS compiler had the same variable scoping rules as QuickBASIC, so it could also compile QuickBASIC code. However the VBwin compilers treated variable scope differently, so they could not compile QuickBASIC code. In addition the events associated with VB forms led to a very different programming style from the one used for QuickBASIC. There is more to a programming language than syntax. Scoping, events and available data types are also key. Syntax of Algol, Pascal and Modula are all fairly similar. The big differences lie elsewhere. The same is true of different generations of BASIC. And yes, agreed. The IDE has nothing to do with anything. The VB IDE hides the true syntax of FRM files but there is nothing stopping anyone from using Notepad to see their real nature or indeed to edit them provided that they have been saved as text. -- Derek Ross | Talk 00:04, 17 September 2011 (UTC)


Hi, I've just hacked out a fair bit of text. If it belongs anywhere, it should be in Dartmouth BASIC article. I'll be looking at tidying up the rest of the article too in the coming days. Snori (talk) 17:36, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

More important to whom?[edit]

"More important were the facilities for structured programming..." Sez who?! In an encyclopedia, what's a value-judgment doing in the article?! What if I'm someone who thinks graphics extensions are far more important than satisfying the "kerrect programming" requirements according to Dickstra? Just like Wikipedia to reflect the opinions of Unixtoxicated text-only "correct"-programming weenies... (talk) 01:13, 11 December 2011 (UTC)


This article before I fixed it claimed that BASIC was strongly typed. This is a false claim. There are versions of BASIC which are not typed at all. The runtime machine determins the type on the fly and it can switch it back and forth as needed. So a string can become a numeric and then back to a string, a file pointer can be examined as a text string, a list pointer can be as well. That's not a strongly typed language. Although I agree there are some versions of BASIC which are in fact strongly typed, not all of them are, and this article is on all of them, not some.Wjhonson (talk) 21:39, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

The original language was strongly typed. It differentiated between string variables and floating point numeric variables. Conversions between the two types required conversion functions and the results had to be stored in a variable of the correct type. Later dialects added integer variables of various sizes and assorted types such as Boolean. However I'm not aware of any weakly typed or untyped dialects until VB for Windows was introduced in the mid 1990s. Perhaps you can name some that existed in the 1980s or before. Even today when a few untyped variants exist, the majority of implementations are strongly typed. So I don't think that it's a completely false claim. Merely one which is no longer as true as it was. -- Derek Ross | Talk 22:12, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
And the ANSI/ISO definition of the language specifies it as a strongly typed language. So it might be more accurate to say that the language is strongly typed but that non-conformant implementations that allow untyped variables exist. -- Derek Ross | Talk 22:23, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

BASIC used in business[edit]

This article also does not seem to cover BASIC as a language running thousands of small businesses in the 1970s and 1980s. Instead it focusing on home computer use. That section should be introduced.Wjhonson (talk) 21:44, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

I Second the motion, I would like to hear from people who created hundreds (I think) of Business programs used world-wide in Basic-like lang...Gcavazos (talk) 02:58, 15 September 2012 (UTC)

Need an improved/expanded criticism section[edit]

Yes, the article has Dijkstra's famous "mentally mutilated" comment. But,

  • What, specifically, about BASIC causes the mutilation?
  • Have computer science pedagogues reached any sort of consensus about better tools and methods for introducing young students to programming? (talk) 06:00, 18 October 2012 (UTC)

We discussed the "mental mutilation" years ago. Check the archives for this talk page for a possible reason. -- Derek Ross | Talk 13:36, 18 October 2012 (UTC)


The earliest date given here is 1964. But I was introduced to something that was called Basic before I entered "Adavanced Level" grades - which can be no later than July 1962. This was part of an ICT educational outreach programme. The language structure of the subsection I saw was very similar to the Basic from Dartmouth College. In principle this should be referenceable and therefore included - but I could find nothing. Can anyone help? PhysicistQuery (talk) 16:11, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

Sister Keller[edit]

Keller may have been one of the students (apparently a grad student) who implemented Basic under the direction of Professors Kemeny and Kurtz. The "Encyclopedia Dubuque" ref in Keller's article says "Sister Keller had assisted in the development of BASIC computer language while at Dartmouth College." The ACM GCSE Bulletin article by Denise Gurer says "At Dartmouth, the university broke the “men only” rule and allowed her to work in the computer science center, where she participated in the development of BASIC." "Assisting" and "participating in the development" do not warrant equal billing. No reliable source has been presented to say she deserves equal billing. Articles I found at Google Book Search say things like "Professors Kemeny and Kurtz, working with students at Dartmouth College in 1963 and 1964, developed the Basic programming language." The Encyclopedia of information Technology says "The original Basic language was invented in 1963 by John Kemeny (1926-1993) and Thomas Kurz at Dartmouth College and implemented by a team of Dartmouth students under their direction. None of these articles single out Keller as being of particular importance in that development. The only sources presented so far say that she was one of the students working under the direction of Kemeny and Kurtz, and it may be that the Keller article needs a bit of editing to avoid overstating her role. If she was the co-developer, then lets see the reliable sources which can verify it. Until then, she should not be listed as the co-developer. Edison (talk) 19:36, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

I did the same searches and I agree. This dispute seems to be over changes to the lede and to the infobox. The argument in the infobox is "Designed by"—does that mean the language, or the implementation? The lede clearly says "designed the original BASIC language". But implementing is not the same as designing the language (which to me, as an occasional designer of "little languages", means designing its syntax). From what I gather, Kemeny and Kurtz designed the syntax, and Keller was among the group that helped implement it. The article body says "The original BASIC language was designed on May 1, 1964 by" by Kemeny and Kurtz, and the ref for that does not mention Keller. The lede should not have anything not in the body. (I doubt that the entire design job was done in one day, but that's another subject. The ref given for the latter claim actually says that the first BASIC program ran on that day.) Jeh (talk) 23:18, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm in full agreement with Edison (and Jeh) on this matter. I wouldn't particularly object to mentioning her in the History section, but this needs to be phrased carefully, as there do appear be other students that worked on the development. Her specific claim to fame seems to be being (one of) the first woman/women to receive a PhDs in computer science, not having been a developer of BASIC. —Ruud 22:30, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
I support @Edison:'s recent edit. However I suggest that it should be possible to nail this down by looking up Kemeney and Kurtz's early papers describing the language and its implementation, and/or Keller's list of publications. If Keller is listed as an equal-status co-author with Ke and Ku, as opposed to "the work was assisted by" or similar, then she can go back in the article as co-creator. If not, then that is further support for the current status. Jeh (talk) 08:34, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
Regardless of all this, it seems that it was perfectly reasonable for the reversion of the IP address edits to be challenged when they were because the referenced claim is in the Mary Kenneth Keller article where it has stood unchallenged since the article was created back in July 2012. The reversion offered no competing evidence. This discussion was not available at that time. –LiveRail Talk > 11:34, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
I disagree. But that's not a topic for this talk page. Jeh (talk) 14:25, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
You don't state which bit(s) of my post you disagree with or why. So here goes:
  1. There is no evidence that the first first edit from an IP address editor was made in bad faith. You are therefore required by Wikipedia policy to assume that the edit was made in good faith. The second edit from another IP address editor merely correctly and properly added a wikilink to another article. If you are disagreeing that either of these edits was made in good faith then you are as guilty as Wtshymanski of not assuming the required good faith.
  2. That the Mary Kenneth Keller article had both the claim and the supporting reference when the article was first written cannot be in doubt as the article's edit history clearly shows this to be so.
  3. This was the talk page of this aricle as it was when the first IP address edit was made. There is not yet any discussion on the role Mary Keller did or did not have in the development of BASIC.
So which bit are you disagreeing with, why and where is your evidence? –LiveRail Talk > 08:56, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
Article talk pages are for improving article content. I see no way that your questions here are about improving the article. So as I said above, "that's not a topic for this talk page". Since I was apparently not clear above, I'll be more clear here: I won't respond further to such questions. Jeh (talk) 11:22, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
@LiveRail:, you may like to note that Jeh has consistently defended Wtshymanski's policy of reverting all IP edits made to any engineering based article. He has also consistently posted an argument defending Wtshymanski's reverts. However, all have been non arguments based on fatuous material. You have summed up his last post but one perfectly. No surprise whatsoever that he has refused to justify it.
You (and Jeh) may care to note that Wtshymanski has already confirmed that he does operate a policy of reverting all IP edits in articles that he routinely watches with the exception of one per year. Wtshymanski used the one per year to claim that he does not revert all IP edits - a claim that impressed few including the admins. DieSwartzPunkt (talk) 18:46, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
The 1964-1965 development of Basic was a very notable event in the history of computer software, and is certainly within living memory for any of the participants at Dartmouth). It seems very likely that someone in the field of the history of technology would have tracked down participants and documented their recollections, or would have done in depth interviews of Kemeny and Kurtz, then written up reliable secondary sources which could be used to improve this article, and to shed light on the contributions of participants other than Kurtz and Kemeny. I just did not find such writings in my recent Google Book search. In histories of other technology, the contributions of the "little people" to the successes of famous inventors have often been written up, such as Dickson's contribution to motion picture technology in Edison's lab. We are not on deadline, so I hope that someone will dig into reliable sources about the development of Basic. If Keller shows up as a major contributor, similar to Kemeny and Kurtz, I have no objection to appropriate coverage. The sources that say she was there and participated are not justification for the edits listing her as the co-inventor. An article in Time magazine in 2014 on the 50th anniversary of the development of Basic said of Kemeny and Kurtz " They lead a team of a dozen undergraduate students - young men who were still in the process of learning about computers themselves. (Dartmouth was a male-only institution at the time: Kemeny himself took it co-ed in 1972 as president of the college, a position he held from 1970-1981)" So was Keller really a student of any kind at Dartmouth when Basic was being developed? Was she an auditor or visiting student? In her favor, there was a long standing tradition of leaving women out of official histories of early computing. During WW2,female mathematicians did the work of programming the first computers, and were conspicuously absent from photos and accounts of how men got the computers working. Edison (talk) 19:13, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
@Edison: The proceedings of ACM SIGPLAN HOPL-I had a whole section devoted to BASIC. I scanned the article by Kurtz. It seems to mention a few students by name, but not Keller. —Ruud 19:50, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
Indeed. As I wrote somewhere, to anyone who was following the microcomputer industry, Kemeny and Kurtz were, for at least a period of time, as well known re. Basic as Admiral Hopper was re. Cobol. This was due to a resurgence of awareness of their names: after seemingly every microcomputer maker came out with their own unique extension to Basic, they formed a company that sold a product called "True BASIC" - "extended BASIC as it should be, from the original inventors of BASIC". They made much of their status as "original inventors" and got much attention in the trade press, so their names were spoken of a lot. I haven't thought about those names in a long time, but when this discussion came up I immediately remembered "Kemeney and Kurtz"; this took no great expert-level involvement in the industry. And I never heard anybody say "there is another." (Personal note: My "survey of programming languages" class was taught by a staunch feminist and if there had been any hint of a woman who was truly Basic's co-inventor but who had been ignored due to gender bias, I'm quite certain she'd have mentioned it.)
Investigation should continue but I think what we have here is completely sufficient to support this page as it is. And also to bring the matter to the Mary Kenneth Keller page... to its talk page at least. Jeh (talk) 22:32, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
Further investigation may well be warranted, but not based on your post. It's wall-to-wall original research in that you have cited absolutely nothing. DieSwartzPunkt (talk) 13:11, 18 March 2015 (UTC)
I didn't suggest, nor would I support, that any of that be used in the article as is and with no citations. I even highlighted my "personal note" so as to make damn sure it was clear that I wasn't claiming anything citable there. So I'm not sure what your complaint is. Jeh (talk) 16:12, 18 March 2015 (UTC)

Time Sharing vs Batch[edit]

In this article Time sharing and batch systems are explained as the same type of system.

Multitasking does not equal time sharing system. Time Sharing is multiple interactive users sharing a computers respurces. True multitasking is required. However a multitasking batch system does not support user interaction with batch jobs.

The issue may be clouded on the DEC-System-Ten for example. On the TOPS-10 operatoring system BATCH jobs were run by a program. The batch control program usually ran privileged on the operators terminal.Steamerandy (talk) 08:44, 15 October 2015 (UTC)

I've just tidied up the history section to clarify in a way that makes sense for this article. Snori (talk) 23:37, 15 October 2015 (UTC)

Business BASIC[edit]

There is hardly any mention in this article of the use of BASIC on the timesharing minicomputers of the 1970s and 1980s. Systems such as the MAI Basic Four and Point 4 had a highly optimized form of BASIC that was designed for interaction with a timesharing operating system, and hundreds of thousands of these systems were sold worldwide.

In the early 1980s, companies like Basis International (BBx) and Concept Omega (Thoroughbred) developed timesharing BASIC implementations that would run on UNIX. These UNIX implementations remain in use to this day, often running code that was developed back when Ronald Reagan was president of the USA.

As for Visual Basic, that is an aberration and not at all representative of what BASIC is all about. (talk) 23:19, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

Well go ahead and add it then. Sounds like it would be a good addition to the article and you obviously know more about it than most of us. -- Derek Ross | Talk 01:05, 28 January 2016 (UTC)
Yes, go ahead and add it... As long as there are good references.
BASIC also enjoyed widespread use on the PDP-11 under RSTS/E. Jeh (talk) 01:24, 28 January 2016 (UTC)


"In 1975 MITS released Altair BASIC, developed by Bill Gates and Paul Allen as the company Micro-Soft," Shouldn't this be "... at the company..."? Kdammers (talk) 22:46, 8 June 2016 (UTC)

No. Initially Gates and Allen were the company. Jeh (talk) 23:00, 8 June 2016 (UTC)