<language> Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. A simple
language originally designed for ease of programming by students and beginners.
Many dialects exist, and BASIC is popular on microcomputers with sound and
graphics support. Most micro versions are interactive and interpreted.
BASIC has become the leading cause of brain-damage in proto-hackers. This is
another case (like Pascal) of the cascading lossage that happens when a language
deliberately designed as an educational toy gets taken too seriously. A novice
can write short BASIC programs (on the order of 10-20 lines) very easily;
writing anything longer is painful and encourages bad habits that will make it
harder to use more powerful languages. This wouldn't be so bad if historical
accidents hadn't made BASIC so common on low-end micros. As it is, it ruins
thousands of potential wizards a year.
Originally, all references to code, both GOTO and GOSUB (subroutine call)
referred to the destination by its line number. This allowed for very simple
editing in the days before text editors were considered essential. Just typing
the line number deleted the line and to edit a line you just typed the new line
with the same number. Programs were typically numbered in steps of ten to allow
for insertions. Later versions, such as BASIC V, allow GOTO-less structured
programming with named procedures and functions, IF-THEN-ELSE-ENDIF constructs
and WHILE loops etc.
Early BASICs had no graphic operations except with graphic characters. In the
1970s BASIC interpreters became standard features in mainframes and
minicomputers. Some versions included matrix operations as language primitives.
A public domain interpreter for a mixture of DEC's MU-Basic and Microsoft Basic
is here. A yacc parser and interpreter were in the comp.sources.unix
archives volume 2.
See also ANSI Minimal BASIC, bournebasic, bwBASIC, ubasic, Visual Basic.
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