Microsoft Basic


Microsoft Basic is a programming language and a version of the BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) language developed by Microsoft Corporation. It was originally created in the 1970s by Bill Gates and Paul Allen for early personal computers, providing users a simple and accessible way to write and run programs. Microsoft Basic encompasses various forms and iterations, such as GW-BASIC, QBasic, and Visual Basic, which have evolved over time to include more advanced features and functionalities.

Key Takeaways

  1. Microsoft BASIC is a family of interpreted programming languages developed in the early days of computing, originating with Altair BASIC in 1975, which was Microsoft’s first widely known and distributed software product.
  2. This programming language was designed to be easy to learn and use, making it well-suited for beginners interested in creating simple programs or computational tasks on their personal computers.
  3. Despite its more limited features in comparison to modern programming languages, Microsoft BASIC played a significant role in the growth of the personal computer industry, becoming a standard component in many operating systems of that era, like MS-DOS.


The term “Microsoft Basic” is important as it refers to Microsoft’s implementation of the BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) programming language, which played a crucial role in the evolution of the personal computer industry.

Microsoft Basic made programming more accessible to a wider audience and enabled them to develop software for various computer platforms.

Microsoft’s co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen initially developed this version of BASIC for the Altair 8800 microcomputer in 1975, which marked the beginnings of Microsoft as a company.

Microsoft Basic’s ease of use, adaptability, and proliferation across multiple computer systems contributed significantly to the foundation of the modern computing industry and Microsoft’s subsequent growth as a technology giant.


Microsoft Basic is a fundamental programming language designed to simplify the process of computer programming for people who are new to the field. The primary purpose of Microsoft Basic is to serve as a foundational platform for budding programmers, aiding them in grasping essential programming concepts and skills.

As an intuitive language that is user-friendly and easy to learn, Microsoft Basic has been widely adopted by educational institutions and hobbyists alike, who appreciate that it allows them to create a variety of applications, ranging from simple games to business software, without demanding prior coding experience. Beyond its educational value, Microsoft Basic has proven itself to be useful in the development of many small-scale applications and the rapid prototyping of new software.

Its approachable syntax and wide range of practical functions encourage experimentation and innovation among developers, enabling them to test potential solutions and ideas more efficiently. In this way, Microsoft Basic is not only empowering for newcomers to the programming world but also remains a valuable tool for more experienced programmers seeking an efficient means of fine-tuning and refining their software designs.

Examples of Microsoft Basic

Microsoft BASIC refers to the BASIC programming language that was developed by Microsoft and has been implemented in various forms throughout history. Here are three real-world examples of Microsoft BASIC:

Altair BASIC (1975): Microsoft BASIC was initially developed for the Altair 8800 microcomputer in the form of Altair BASIC. It was one of the first products developed by Microsoft, and was designed to make programming accessible to a wider audience. Altair BASIC allowed users to write simple programs to run on their Altair 8800 and was instrumental in the growth of the personal computer industry in the 1970s.

IBM PC BASIC (1981): When the IBM PC (5150) was launched in 1981, it included IBM PC BASIC or IBM Cassette BASIC as a built-in programming language interpreter (stored in a read-only memory chip). This early version of Microsoft BASIC was similar to the original Altair BASIC, featuring a simple, text-based interface that allowed programmers to develop applications for PCs before other operating systems like MS-DOS became widely available.

Microsoft Visual Basic (1991): Microsoft Visual Basic (VB) evolved from Microsoft BASIC, providing a more advanced and user-friendly programming environment. With the introduction of the Windows graphical user interface in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Microsoft aimed to simplify programming tasks by introducing Visual Basic as a powerful tool to create Windows applications quickly and easily. Visual Basic enabled developers to create applications using a “drag-and-drop” method, which made it a popular choice to build custom software solutions, automate office tasks, and develop small-scale business applications.These examples highlight the impact of Microsoft BASIC on the early development of the personal computer industry, as well as its continued evolution through future iterations.

Microsoft Basic – Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Microsoft Basic?

Microsoft Basic is a programming language and a version of the BASIC language developed by Microsoft Corporation. It was designed to be easy to learn and use, and provides a foundation for many other Microsoft programming languages like Visual Basic and VBScript.

2. What are the key features of Microsoft Basic?

Microsoft Basic is known for its simplicity, structure, and ease of use. Some of its key features include variable assignments, conditional statements, loops, arrays, string manipulation, and built-in functions for mathematical calculations.

3. In which applications is Microsoft Basic used?

Microsoft Basic has been used in a variety of applications, including simple games, small business applications, spreadsheet macros, and database management systems. It is primarily used for educational purposes, as a stepping stone for novice programmers to learn programming fundamentals before diving into more advanced languages.

4. Which versions of Microsoft Basic are available?

Microsoft has released multiple versions of its Basic language, including GW-BASIC, QBasic, QuickBASIC, and Visual Basic. The most recent version is Visual Basic .NET, which is integrated within Microsoft’s .NET programming framework.

5. What operating systems support Microsoft Basic?

Various versions of Microsoft Basic can be used across different platforms, including MS-DOS, Windows, Xenix, and Apple Macintosh. Compatibility, however, depends on the specific version of Basic being used.

Related Technology Terms

  • Visual Basic
  • Microsoft BASIC Interpreter
  • Basic programming language
  • Altair 8800

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