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BASIC programming language What is it, what are its elements and what kind of programs can be created with it?

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The programming is one of the tasks most important and fascinating in the world of computing. Having a domain in program development is a point in favor that every person who wants to venture into this area should know.

To take the first steps it is necessary to know the most outstanding programming languages ​​that exist. Among them, BASIC stands out, which provides an environment with simple functions and at the same time easy to understand so that any user can master this technique.

In this article we will talk a little about this fabulous language, without neglecting those elements that characterize it and the most outstanding dialects that exist. Do not miss our analysis, since will help you easily understand what BASIC is.

What is the BASIC programming language and what is its history in computer programming?

What is the BASIC programming language and what is its history in computer programming?

BASIC is an acronym that corresponds to its acronym in English “Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code”. Which refers to a programming language that is aimed, especially, at beginners. It was developed in 1964 under the original version Dartmouth BASIC (after the name of the college that gave rise to the development of the Hungarian professor John George Kemeny).

This programming environment brought a solution for that time, since in order to program at that time, expert users in custom-made software codes were needed. In this way BASIC could be used as a tool for programming and at the same time to teach programming to students. Currently there are dialects that use this language to carry out their developments. Such is the case of the operating system. “prawns” either “AmigaSO”.

With these instruction codes it was possible to achieve that students or initial level users can use them in a simple way. In addition, the language did not have a specific purpose, that is to say could be used in any project since it allowed to have advanced features and be interactive at the same time.

The acceptance of this language was always good, but had an important growth in 1975. This was because it was introduced into the Altair 8800 microcomputer which could hold the entire BASIC program in its small memory. This generated an important advance because so far all other languages ​​were very large and could not be saved to any storage device.

In the late 1970s, and after Microsoft and Apple released their respective computers, versions of BASIC for DOS began to be sold. This caused Microsoft to establish the leadership of this language throughout the computer world. In addition, it had a definitive support with the creation of Visual BASIC from Bill Gates’ company.

What are the elements of the BASIC programming languages?

The most prominent elements in the BASIC language are:


Being a programming language that is easy to interpret by novice users and that is interactive, BASIC only needs to use the LET, IF, PRINT, INPUT commands Y GO TO. In this way, it will be possible to make graphs, write texts, read data (both numerical and text) and make decisions according to a certain writing.

If a memory data structure is added to it, other basic commands such as FOR Y GOSUB. In addition, to avoid having a mandatory line numbering, it is used RENUMBERwhich is no longer widely used in modern BASIC dialects such as X BASIC Y BCX.


Programmers have a library that is built into the procedures of this language. This generated, at the beginning of the implementation of this language, that users could not write their own processes, since they had to do it through the GOTO command.

This resulted in a complication in the flow of procedures. Very confusing diagrams were generated, which was difficult to sustain over time and often could only be read by their own programmers.

Flow control

Flow control

To solve the problem of the procedures, statements were created that would work as subroutines.. This allowed BASIC to branch without having to access certain parameters or specific variables. Therefore, it was achieved that, within the flow of procedures, returns can be made at the beginning or start from another place.

These innovations were incorporated into QuickBASIC and BASIC PDS in the mid-1980s setting subroutines to procedures that don’t return a value and functions to those that do (but we’ll get to that later when we look at the major dialects of BASIC).

Type of data

Each derivation of the language that we analyze has functions to work with character strings and substrings. The data types that were recognized, as for example in the first Dartmouth BASIC dialect, were numeric and character strings. This means that there wasn’t a whole guybeing the strings of a variable size and the numeric data of a floating point.

Something similar happens today where numeric data and strings are of variable types. To distinguish them, a suffix is ​​used.being the strings the ones that use the “$ sign” (for instance, ADDRESS$), while numerical data does not. Except when you want to specify some important feature.

When there are arrays that have a number greater than 10 elements, You just have to declare variables before you use them. Although this currently works, there is also the possibility to choose if you want to declare the variables before using them. This is because working in this way development is considered good practice in programming functions. If you want to declare these variables, you must use the word D.I.M..

What kinds of programs can be developed using BASIC programming languages?

The BASIC programming language is characterized by its versatility since you can create games, mobile or network applications have protocols HTTP, , FTP either SMTP. In addition, they can also be work in database such as mysql or SQLite.

In this way we can say that the environment provided by BASIC is suitable for any enterprise and useful for any level of user.

List of the most well-known variables of the BASIC programming language

BASIC is a language that allows you to have different programming variables. We will show you below the most well-known, useful and preferred compilers by users:


Quick BASIC is a compiler developed by Microsoft in 1985. which is based on BASIC and was used to work with DOS. Had the peculiarity of fitting on a single diskette and distinguished itself by offering the ability to add or remove lines directly from a text editor.

In this way you could compile the software that was executable in DOS and run the program without having to close the text editor, being able to remove a program before a file is created. Version 7.1 was the last one released on the market in 1990. Many people when they talk about this program are confused with QBASIC, which is also open source, which was born a year later and was inspired by Quick BASIC.

QBASIC is compatible with DOS, Windows, Linux and FreeBDS operating systems. It has a structured language that allows the creation of subroutines and while loops, thereby achieving compatibility. The created constructs can be replaced by descriptive tags. with this language the user has limitations regarding data types that are generated by structures and others that are used for numeric data or text strings.

Download Quick BASIC Windows

Bywater BASIC

It is currently used as a BASIC interpreter. Any operating system that has a compiler C language can run Bywater BASIC, since it supports ANSI Minimal BASIC X3.60. This dialect is compatible with systems DOS, Linux, UNIX and BDS.

Download Bywater BASIC Windows

Visual BASIC

Visual BASIC

It is a programming language developed by Microsoft. It has in its latest stable version (number 6) an integrated development environment that allows you to work with a text editora structure to test and eliminate the errors that are made in the creation of the program. It also has a compiler to transform the program into the Visual BASIC language.with a tool to remove unnecessary resources from the library, and with a graphical user interface.

It is ideal for working on interface Data Access Objects and ActiveX Data Objects. to give and receive information from the databases. In 2001, the Win32 programming interface was abandoned and it began to be used. .NET Framework until Microsoft stopped updating the system in March 2018.

It is characterized by providing a very fast learning to the user, working with ease in the Windows operating system and being able to make small prototypes quickly.

Download Visual BASIC Windows


It is based on BASIC and is an enhancement of QuickBASIC, as it provides features such as executable graphical user interface (GUI) programs and consoles. In addition, it provides an online assembler and pointers. Its structure has a set of functions that are implemented dynamically and statically.

It has been in force since 2004 and its updates can be downloaded from the following link:

Download FreeBASIC Windows

Power BASIC (paid)

It was released under the name TurboBASIC and was developed by PowerBASIC Inc. in 1989. It is a set of programs that translate what has been developed by users into a superior programming language. It has two versions, one is MS-DOS and the other is Windows.

For the first, the language is very similar to QBASIC and its predecessor QuickBASIC. While for the second version it is divided into 2 subtypes: Console and Windows. This has a syntax that includes a good number of Windows functions, called Windows APIs.

It is characterized by the simplicity of its use and the speed with which it compares to other programming languages. Also, It has an online assembler that allows to optimize the codes.

Its latest stable version was released in May 2011 and you can find compilers for Windows and other additional tools on its official website. for which you will have to pay to download their products.

Download Power BASIC Windows


With this compiler you can make executable programs that are small in size and amazingly fast. It allows to work with Windows (32 and 64 bits), MacOS (x86 and x64), Linux (32 and 64 bits) and AmigaOSthanks to the same source code, so it uses API functions from each of these OS.

An important new feature of PureBASIC is that you can add instructions in the assembler so that they can work through BASIC. In this way, a more efficient and faster process is achieved.

Download Pure BASIC Windows

Download Pure BASIC iOS

Download Pure BASIC Linux


Thanks to this free software, both for personal and professional use (in some tools), a programming language based on BASIC can be translated into a C and C++ language. Its development is based on QBASIC and is compatible with DOS, Windows and Linux. It was released in 1999 and is characterized by not having line numbers and being case sensitive in function and subroutine names. Also, variables and arrays must be declared before they are used.

Its latest version was 6.9.9 in 2004 with which it is used for different developments, it has several IDEs.

Download BCX Windows



This language has basic BASIC functions and it is intended for Windows (from XP to 10), MacOS, Linux, Unix and PS2. Programming can be done with text editors, but it is not a suitable tool for both Windows and XFree86 graphical environments.

Download YaBASIC Windows


It is a compiler and debugger that has features that They facilitate programming by means of objects. These offer different special functions for the input and output of specific data. The graphics libraries it uses are from the international KDE community. It is compatible with GNU/Linux.

Download Linux HBASIC


With this program an environment is created for the development of systems based on the BASIC language. Although it was created in 1988, it was not until 1999 that it began to be free. Supports operating systems Windows and Linux it is characterized by having a structured language that does not use line numbers. In addition, it has suffixes for text and numeric data types.

It is divided into three sections. The first is the declaration of the data types, while the second and third are the main and additional functions, respectively. Allows greater compatibility with binary level programs.

Download XBASIC Windows



Gambas is a computer environment that allows the development of programs that have a language derived from BASIC. It is compatible with Linux and BDS. It allows to have controls to create forms through buttons or other tools so that they can be linked to databases of type PostgreSQL, MySQL, or SQLite.

It was launched in 1999 as open source and up to date receives constant updatesso it allows you to continue having a fairly complete development environment.

Its components are a compiler, an interpreter to execute the programs, a file archiver which creates a number for archive files so that transport and storage can be carried out in a simpler way. It also has GUI and IDE.

Download Shrimp Linux


It is one of the newest programming environments out there. It was released in 2004 in the form of freeware. It has the particularity that it received a single update a year after its launch. and since then its distribution remains active.

It is based on your predecessor Just BASIC and in QuickBASIC and is intended for the operating system Windows. It is characterized by not having a compiled language and because its source code is saved in a format “.TKN”. This causes it to take up the same space as the original file as it is not tokenized.

Download Just BASIC Windows

What are the main commands of the BASIC languages?

The main BASIC commands that we can mention are:

  • PRINT: It is used to write texts or make graphics.
  • INPUT: This command is used to read data and store it in a text or numeric variable. To differentiate them, use the sign “$” for text ones. For example, “ADDRESS$”.
  • LOCATE ROW, COLUMN: It is used to locate the cursor in a certain grid in which the screen is divided.
  • FOR X =? TO? NEXT: This command is used to set a block of statements to be repeated by means of a counter. For example, the command would be to write a certain word 5 times.
  • if? THEN? ELSE END IF: This command is needed when there is a decision structure in which a criterion must be entered. The system will determine an assigned result according to the variable.


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