BASIC programming language

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BASIC is a programming language designed for ease of use in the early 1960s. The name stands for BASIC Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.


BASIC is designed as an interactive programming language to introduce people to computer programming. As such, it is usually implemented as an interpreter (which interprets the program line by line) rather than a compiler (which translates the program as a whole to machine code).


Classic BASIC uses line numbers to number program lines. Programs can be entered in any line number order and the BASIC system sorts them into ascending line number order for listing and execution.

The classic program is a two-liner:

10 PRINT "Hello, world!"
20 END

When executed, the PRINT statement on line 10 writes a message on the terminal. The statement on line 20 stops program execution and returns control to the user. Some BASIC implementations require an END statement, whereas others do not.

Later BASIC implementations

BASIC's popularity peaked in the 1980s with the microcomputer revolution, with companies such as Apple, Commodore, Acorn, and Sinclair Research producing wildly popular microcomputers. Each of these had incompatible BASIC implementation making it impossible to write anything of significance to run on all (without major modification).

Later BASIC implementations added structured programming and many other features, but typically remained as interpreters rather than compilers; Microsoft's QuickBASIC and GW-BASIC were popular on the IBM PC, and the Microsoft BASIC family live on in Microsoft Visual Basic .NET.

SEGGER has an implementation of BASIC, called emBASIC, that is targeted to micrcontrollers, and is written to only use SEGGER's embedded software.