BASIC Standards

I’ve learnt lately that there are many standards for the BASIC programming language. Who woulda thunk?

First there’s the ECMA-55 Minimal BASIC standard, released in 1978. I found an interpreter for it on GitHub. There’s also a fully fledged compiler, whose author also wrote a book and some interesting slides about it. Talk about passion; the whole idea of this is to bring back the simplicity and excitement of a bare bones programming language, a minimalist environment for people to learn programming in its simplest possible form.

Then there’s the ECMA-116 Full BASIC standard of 1987, with its associated implementation ready to be downloaded and used.

The ECMA standards were dropped in favour of the ISO Full BASIC standard ISO/IEC 10279 of 1992, confirmed in 2008, and available for a fee from the ISO.

There were a gazillion implementations of the language (Microsoft alone published lots of them in the past 45 years), yet the industry did somehow agree on a few standards; that was a surprise to me.

David Lien wrote the encyclopedia of the language in 1978, covering over 200 implementations for the various personal computers of the time; I would love to find a copy of this book.