The Daily WTF: Curious Perversions in Information Technology
Welcome to TDWTF Forums Sign in | Join | Help
in Search

Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

Last post 08-21-2013 4:19 PM by Mr. DOS. 27 replies.
Page 1 of 1 (28 items)
Sort Posts: Previous Next
  • 05-21-2012 1:23 PM

    • ammoQ
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-13-2005
    • Vienna.Austria.Europe.Earth
    • Posts 3,530

    Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    I've asked this question on programmers.stackexchange.com, while they were running a contest on questions with the history tag. They closed it while it was leading. WTF. Seriously, WTF. Since I created the "Questions closed elsewhere" forum, I'm morally obliged to repost the question here.

    Many of us, including me, started their programming life with programs written on home computers, something like
    10 PRINT "ENTER RADIUS"
    20 INPUT R
    30 PRINT "CIRCUMFERENCE="; 2 * R * PI
    40 PRINT "AGAIN?"
    50 INPUT A$
    60 IF A$="Y" THEN GOTO 10
    70 END
    
    Of course, the line-number based BASIC was prone for creating spagetti code, also because most basic dialects missed structural statements like WHILE, doing everything but the FOR-loop with IF, GOTO and GOSUB. (In case it isn't obvious by now, I'm talking about those BASIC dialects before QBASIC and Visual BASIC). Were those BASIC dialects only used to teach aspiring programmes bad style or were larger commercial projects created in such as BASIC dialect? If so, how did they manage to live with the obvious shortcomings?
    beanbag girl 4ever ... or maybe Astah girl?
  • 05-21-2012 1:57 PM In reply to

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    (Q)BASIC was so spectacularly unusable that it probably was very successful in serving only as a novelty item; a language that could let computer-minded kids make things appear on a screen.

    There's always the complete nutjob making proper "software" in it, though.


    In complex analysis, a meromorphic function on an open subset D of the complex plane is a function that is holomorphic on all D except a set of isolated points

  • 05-21-2012 2:01 PM In reply to

    • ammoQ
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-13-2005
    • Vienna.Austria.Europe.Earth
    • Posts 3,530

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    I know some commercial adventure games were written in BASIC, like Pimania, but IMO, BASIC was mostly for learning and playing purposes (as the acronym Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code implies)
    beanbag girl 4ever ... or maybe Astah girl?
  • 05-21-2012 3:29 PM In reply to

    • ekolis
    • Top 100 Contributor
    • Joined on 01-09-2008
    • Cincinnati, OH, USA
    • Posts 600

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    Business Basic has many such applications: http://www.bbpro.org/apps.htm
    I'm Spark Mandrill, and I'll... hey... can I... what, it BOUNCES?... 'kay, I'm splodin' now.
  • 05-21-2012 4:07 PM In reply to

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    What does "serious" mean?

    A lot of Commodore 64 programs I had were BASIC programs, although admittedly many were games. (Educational games; BASICv2 couldn't pump enough pixels to make action games.)

    Those were commercial programs from successful companies like Epyx. Does that count as "serious"?

    Edit: of course at that time, on that platform, the only alternative was assembly, which is worse code-organization-wise. There was a C compiler released late in the C-64's life, but the software I had predated it.

      <-  I couldn't make my shit work, so here's a Godzilla head.
  • 05-21-2012 5:02 PM In reply to

    • ammoQ
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-13-2005
    • Vienna.Austria.Europe.Earth
    • Posts 3,530

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    Ekolis: I'm specifically asking about the old-fasioned BASIC that made it rather hard to write structured or modular code, because e.g. every variable was globally visible, there were no procedures (just GOSUBs, which are GOTOs that jump back by the RETURN statement), no data structures (only simple variables and arrays).

    EDIT: Holy Fsck, after scanning through the linked manual, I see they were using exactly what I mean... in 1991!
    beanbag girl 4ever ... or maybe Astah girl?
  • 05-21-2012 5:06 PM In reply to

    • ammoQ
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-13-2005
    • Vienna.Austria.Europe.Earth
    • Posts 3,530

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    blackeyerat: By "serious" I mean software that is used professionally, non-trivial and for-sale. It's the kind of software where maintenance is an issue. Something like a word processor, accounting, warehouse management etc.
    beanbag girl 4ever ... or maybe Astah girl?
  • 05-21-2012 5:14 PM In reply to

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    Well all I can say is maybe your question was closed because you didn't define your terms.

    If you're going to define "serious" that way, then no I don't know of any examples. I have no doubt BASIC was used for those tasks, though, as for much of computing history, the alternative would have been worse.

      <-  I couldn't make my shit work, so here's a Godzilla head.
  • 05-21-2012 5:31 PM In reply to

    • ammoQ
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-13-2005
    • Vienna.Austria.Europe.Earth
    • Posts 3,530

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    They closed it as "Not constructive", as if a historical question could ever be "constructive". IMO a sad example of overmoderation killing an otherwise good site. At least stackoverflow.com only contains technical questions now, so I guess programmers.stackexchange.com turned out to be the sacrified sheep to first get all the subjective questions, then trying to get clean and serious and finally dying a slow death of irrelevance.
    beanbag girl 4ever ... or maybe Astah girl?
  • 05-22-2012 1:40 PM In reply to

    • flop
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-27-2007
    • Posts 148

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    I can answer that with a simple "Yes."

    About 1987 my neighbour wrote the "Rosiwal Betongütemessung" (Rosiwal concrete quality measurement, see http://www.astm.org/Standards/C457.htm). As the measurement needed to count pulses on some data lines BASIC was too slow for that part, and he asked me to write the counting in Assembler.

    Loaded at 0xC000, counted pulses, switched the counter and did a screen update on a keystroke, returned the values as floats to BASIC.

    The whole rest of the user-interface and statistical analysis was done in BASIC - pages upon pages upon pages of fanfold paper, marking GOTOs and GOSUBs with a pen to debug ... I saw him struggling with that a fair bit of time.

  • 05-22-2012 1:57 PM In reply to

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    One of my friends who used to work at the local movie theater had me come take a look at their systems one day, wondering if I could write something better (never happened because the system they had--while ancient--still worked fine and they didn't want anything new). Their point-of-sale system was an original Pentium computer running Windows 95, and their sales software was written completely in QBASIC. This was in 2009 or 2010. What I found fascinating was that this QBASIC application was actually capable of using the Internet to charge credit cards.

    This is a signature. It's not a good one, but it's still a signature.


  • Mon, February 30 2010 2:64 PM

    • Fabulous Darth Vader
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined a long, long time ago
    • In a Glittery galaxy far, far away
    • Posts π x 10-14


    I have cornified this post, pray I don't cornify it further.






  • 05-22-2012 1:58 PM In reply to

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    blakeyrat:
    A lot of Commodore 64 programs I had were BASIC programs, although admittedly many were games. (Educational games; BASICv2 couldn't pump enough pixels to make action games.)

    That, in my case.

    Cut my teeth on Commodore PET coding in my schooldays, for which there were many BASIC packages but more for educational use and they weren't much more than what we would have knocked up ourselves for a class exercise, given enough time. I don't recall many business applications, but I wasn't exposed to an audience that used them. Our school trip to the local Water Authority showed us what a mainframe looked like with its whirring 70's drums and spools of magnetic tape - the memory capacity and disk storage pissed all over our humble school kit, making many of us understand what "real world" computers were actually like. I don't recall what languages those systems used, but I know it wasn't BASIC (was something like JCL or CP/M, but I vaguely remembered it being mentioned in the more boring computer magazines of that day).

    Progressed onto the VIC20 where I learned some assembly but most programming I did was still BASIC.

    Did my school project on a BBC Micro that had "structured BASIC" which contained procedures (PROC and DEFPROC) and began to gain an understanding of breaking down my code into self-contained blocks, but black-box design (encapsulation theory) hadn't made it to my class as yet.

    BASIC really taught me fundamental problem-solving but was a language that strongly focussed upon functional programming - all examples I recall from around that time lacked comments and any discernable structure. Looking back, it looked like a rush job to get something hastily fixed.

     

    I honestly think BASIC was intended for just that: a hobbyist language that came natively-provided with the hardware and lowered entry barriers to coding, much like many scripting languages of today. How many people here have touched on BASIC at some point?

  • 05-25-2012 5:29 AM In reply to

    • ammoQ
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-13-2005
    • Vienna.Austria.Europe.Earth
    • Posts 3,530

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    mott555:

    and their sales software was written completely in QBASIC. This was in 2009 or 2010. What I found fascinating was that this QBASIC application was actually capable of using the Internet to charge credit cards.


    QBASIC is way more powerful than those old line-number oriented basic dialects, in terms of language features. It's more like Pascal with few syntactical changes to make it look like BASIC.

    beanbag girl 4ever ... or maybe Astah girl?
  • 05-25-2012 3:34 PM In reply to

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    I have in fact created some serious softwares in GWBASIC. One such program I have actually written in 2000 (did you think nobody used GWBASIC by that time?) and was a database for keeping track of inventory and printing out the reports
    Let's using TeXnicard.
  • 05-26-2012 12:52 AM In reply to

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    Cassidy:
    I honestly think BASIC was intended for just that: a hobbyist language
    Well yeah, it's right in the name:  Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.  However, I do vaguely remember seeing some "serious" software, such as a word processing program, written in Basic. I guess that's the simultaneously good/bad/interesting part of computers.  People are always trying to do stuff that they really shouldn't be doing.

  • 05-28-2012 2:23 PM In reply to

    • ammoQ
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-13-2005
    • Vienna.Austria.Europe.Earth
    • Posts 3,530

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    BTW, the question was reopened on programmers.stackexchange.com and actually won the contest :D
    beanbag girl 4ever ... or maybe Astah girl?
  • 05-28-2012 2:40 PM In reply to

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    But only after you clarified what the fuck you were talking about, teaching you an important lesson about communication and how people on the Internet aren't fucking psychic.
      <-  I couldn't make my shit work, so here's a Godzilla head.
  • 06-01-2012 1:21 PM In reply to

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    blakeyrat:
    But only after you clarified what the fuck you were talking about, teaching you an important lesson about communication and how people on the Internet aren't fucking psychic.
    Oh, irony.

  • 06-01-2012 2:17 PM In reply to

    • ekolis
    • Top 100 Contributor
    • Joined on 01-09-2008
    • Cincinnati, OH, USA
    • Posts 600

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    blakeyrat:
    fucking psychic.
    Psychics don't enjoy sex, because they know in advance when you're going to come...
    I'm Spark Mandrill, and I'll... hey... can I... what, it BOUNCES?... 'kay, I'm splodin' now.
  • 07-12-2012 10:56 PM In reply to

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    StackExchange is a cesspool. It's like Reddit, except that instead of giving smug, idealistic answers to questions of politics and morality, the members at StackExchange give smug, idealistic answers to questions about programming. It pains me to say this... as I understand things, Joel Spolsky is associated with StackExchange, and he's basically my idol.

    As for the question of whether serious software development was ever done in BASIC, I'm afraid the answer is "yes." I actually ran into some mission-critical GW-BASIC code running in production circa 1999. If one expands the question to include slightly more advanced dialects, then a lot of serious programming was done in BASIC. There was a rabidly competitive market for DOS-hosted BASIC compilers back in the late 1980s / early 1990s. Those weren't hobbyists paying hundreds of dollars for QuickBASIC, Turbo BASIC, etc.

    There was even a Bill Gates-versus-the-world BASIC programming contest at one point, which was designed to show the superiority of Microsoft's BASIC compiler. Bill used Microsoft's compiler, and I think everyone else used Borland's. The stakes were high. Bill won, and sanity lost. (No, the alternatives were nor worse... assembly is tedious, but at least it's not a revolting hack.)
  • 08-09-2012 5:38 AM In reply to

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [still open]

    fixed the topic.

     

  • 12-23-2012 7:08 AM In reply to

    • YumYum
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on 11-13-2009
    • Posts 7

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    Did a google search for RESUME, and found this typical example

    "09-86 to 03-90 Computer Programmer / Analyst
    Pacific First Bank. 701 North E St./ San Bernardino, CA 92407
    MAJOR JOB RESPONSIBILITIES: Applications programming in a financial environment. Analyze, produce, test and maintain programs for reports and systems for various bank departments. Increase program operating efficiency, and adapt them to new requirements if needed. Produce programs to put files to tape for microfiche. Maintain TAHEASY General Ledger System.
    LANGUAGES: VAX BASIC V2.6 to V3.3, BASIC+2, IBM Easytrieve, IBM PC/Focus.
    EQUIPMENT: DEC VAX 11/780 VMS, DEC PDP 11/70 RSTS/E and Ethernet via DECNET.
    METHODS: Development involves: Edit, Sort/Merge Utility commands and specification files, RMS file structures, DCL command files, Create Utility, Analyze Utility, Screen Management Guidelines (SMG), System Services, Run Time Library, WPS Plus.
    CONTRIBUTIONS: Convert programs and systems from DEC PDP11/70 RSTS/E BASIC+2 to DEC VAX VMS 11/780 BASIC V3.2. Gave classes for: VAX Debug V4.6, DCL Lexicals, Utilizing CLD's for Accessing the HELP Utility Within an Application, and The Creation and Maintenance of HELP Utility Libraries and Text Files. Wrote the standards for magnetic tapes leaving the 

    "

    The PICK operating system and database was seriously used by serious people, (but I can't remember if that had GOSUB) and  I've seen an asset management system written in BASIC (before spreadsheets, that was considered a serious enterprise application)

    Personally, I've worked on a large CAD/CAM program written in Sharp BASIC that used dynamic loading to implement an object-oriented paradigm using computed GOTO, and I'm familiar with a 80's GIS package that was even bigger.

    BASIC was the most popular application development language for a decade, partly because it was the most portable language available:Rather more portable than Java is today, which is similar but is a niche market in comparison.

  • 12-23-2012 8:41 AM In reply to

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

     Did it mention "Data data processing" anywhere in the job history?

  • 04-30-2013 12:48 PM In reply to

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    New here and resurrecting an old thread to say Yes.

    QBASIC PDS 7.1 (Microsoft Professional Development System)

     I built custom hierarchical databases for a major healthcare company circa 1996, using this tool.

    There was also a VB-DOS version I used briefly. It was more or less the successor to PDS. It died an early death with the advent/popularity of Windows.

     

  • 04-30-2013 7:16 PM In reply to

    • YumYum
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on 11-13-2009
    • Posts 7

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    CGallucci:
    circa 1996
     

     

    The last of the old school!  Win95 came out in mid 1995, and the better memory management made DOS obsolete for all new 'serious software' development.

  • 05-30-2013 12:21 AM In reply to

    • dkf
    • Top 50 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-24-2008
    • Manchester, UK
    • Posts 1,138

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    YumYum:
    Win95 came out in mid 1995, and the better memory management made DOS obsolete for all new 'serious software' development.
    IIRC, it took quite a while for the message that it was dead to get through to the dinosaur's brain. In fact, I occasionally still get glimpses of DOS programs still in use in the fustier of businesses, though now being run inside a command terminal. I don't investigate further; I don't want to do support, I'm a software developer…
  • 08-15-2013 10:49 PM In reply to

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

    My brother made a full game using only (Q)BASIC. The gameplay was very similar to Worms. Everything is only one pixel in size but the world, which looked a lot like a cross-section of a lawn. There were only two characters, but my brother implemented several different weapons, including a flamethrower (lots of wide-angle, short-range projectiles), rocket launcher (the projectile traveled straight and blew up when it hit a grass blade or the other pixel-character), grenade launcher (arcing explosive), and machine gun (lots of narrow-angle, long-range projectiles). He had individual health indicators, destructible terrain, and I think he even had implemented simple save-reload functionality.
  • 08-21-2013 4:19 PM In reply to

    Re: Was classical BASIC ever used for serious software development? [closed]

     The OHRRPGCE, while not commercial, is a reasonably serious undertaking and was developed in QuickBASIC (not QBASIC) from its initial release in 1997 until mid-2006.

Page 1 of 1 (28 items)
Powered by Community Server (Non-Commercial Edition), by Telligent Systems