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Screenshot of ZBasic 4.7 on MS-DOS
Screenshot of ZBasic 4.7 on MS-DOS
Original author(s) Andrew Gariepy
Scott Terry
David Overton
Greg Branche
Halbert Laing
Developer(s) Simutek
Initial release 1980; 37 years ago (1980)
Platform MS-DOS, Apple II, Macintosh, CP/M, TRS-80

ZBasic was a compiler first released by Simutek (Tucson, AZ) in 1980. The combined efforts of Andrew Gariepy, Scott Terry, David Overton, Greg Branche, and Halbert Laing lead to versions for MS-DOS, Apple II, Macintosh, CP/M and TRS-80 computers. ZBasic was a very fast, efficient and quite advanced BASIC compiler with an integrated development environment. It aimed to be used as a cross-platform development system, where the same source code could be compiled to different platforms without any modifications.

ZBasic featured device independent graphics: the same compiled code could work on different display resolutions and colors, and even in text mode. Original PC versions included graphical support up to EGA for MS-DOS.

A special feature of ZBasic was BCD (binary coded decimal) math with accuracy up to 54 digits. Another special feature was INDEX$ array, an array of variable length strings that could be easily sorted, searched etc.

In 1991, Harry Gish and 32 Bit Software Inc. (Dallas, TX) purchased the MS-DOS version. Nando Favaro expanded it to include 16 and 32 bit specific machine code as well as VGA and VESA video. Zedcor concentrated on the Apple Mac market and renamed it FutureBASIC.

Elba Corp.[edit]

ZBasic is also the name of a microcontroller-specific Basic dialect created in 2005 by Elba Corp. (Beaverton, Oregon) for their ZX family of Basic programmable microcontrollers including the ZX-24n that is pin compatible with the Basic Stamp and similar stamp-format microcontrollers. The ZBasic language is a subset of Microsoft's Visual Basic with some extensions specific to microcontroller programming as well as (optional) object-oriented extensions. The ZBasic compiler is freely downloadable (from http://www.zbasic.net) but it is only useful for compiling programs for the ZX microcontrollers and the ESP8266. For a one-time fee, a special generic device license is available that adds support for certain Atmel microcontrollers including some ATtiny, ATmega and ATxmega devices.


  1. ^ TRS-80 releases
  2. ^ ZBasic manual 'ZBasic, Interactive Compiler', by Andrew R. Gariepy, Scott Terry, David Overton, Greg Branche and Halbert Laing. Documentation by Michael A. Gariepy. Fourth Edition 4/87 (C)1985-1987 Zedcor Inc.
  3. ^ 'ZBasic-PC/386', modifications by Nando Favaro. Documentation by Harry Gish. First Edition 3/91 (C)1991 32 Bit Software Inc.
  4. ^ ZBasic 5 reviewed by Dave Kelly for MacTech magazine