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GBIC >> QBasic >> History

History
The term BASIC stands for:

Beginner's All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code

The original BASIC came from Dartmouth, where two professors worked with several students to develop an easy to learn programming language. The story goes that the students were having difficulty learning FORTRAN so the professors decided that creating a language from scratch would be an excellent teaching tool for the students. The result was BASIC, which was eventually placed in the public domain.

BASICA
With the Dartmouth BASIC as a template, Microsoft created BASICA (1981) specifically for the IBM PC. They followed up shortly after that with GW-BASIC for the PC.

QuickBasic
Microsoft eventually created and marketed the more capable QuickBasic (1985), which particularly introduced compilation of the BASIC source code into a command line executable (EXE) file. The last version of QuickBasic was 4.5 (1988)

QBasic
Microsoft also created QBasic (1991), a subset of QuickBasic, and included it in every release of MSDOS, starting with MSDOS 5.0 and all versions of Windows up to, but not including, Windows XP. The final version of QBasic was 1.1 (1993). QBasic does not include a compiler QBasic, which does not include a compiler, has been included for free in every version of MSDOS and Windows since then (excluding XP and Vista).

QBasic will run on XP but not on Vista.

Visual Basic
All of these BASIC versions (GW-BASIC, QuickBasic, QBasic) run on Windows, excluding Vista, in an MSDOS window. It was not until Visual Basic 1.0 (1992) was introduced that true Windows programs could be written with a Microsoft BASIC dialect. The final Visual Basic 6.0 (1998) version has since been replaced by Visual Basic .NET (2002).

Latest File Information
For reference, here's information on the latest versions of the GW-BASIC, QuickBasic, PDS and QBasic executable files.

  • GW-BASIC
    gwbasic.exe v3.23, 80,608 bytes, 5 Oct 1988 2:00am

  • QuickBasic
    qb.exe v4.5, 278,804 bytes, 17 April 1993 3:05pm

  • QBasic
    qbasic.exe v1.1, 194,309 bytes, 31 May 1994 6:22am

Timeline
Here are the dates for DOS, Windows and BASIC dialects.

      Year   MS-DOS   Windows   GW-BASIC   QuickBasic   QBasic   VB
    1981 1.0 - - - - -
    1982 - - - - - -
    1983 2.0 - 1.0 - - -
    1984 3.0 - - - - -
    1985 - 1.0 - 1.0 - -
    1986 - - - 2.0 - -
    1987 - 2.0 - 3.0/4.0 - -
    1988 4.0 - 3.23 4.5 - -
    1989 - - - - - -
    1990 - 3.0 - - - -
    1991 5.0 - - - 1.0 1.0
    1992 - - - - - 2.0
    1993 6.0 - - - 1.1 3.0
    1994 - - - - - -
    1995 - Win95 - - - 4.0
    1996 - - - - - -
    1997 - - - - - 5.0
    1998 - Win98 - - - 6.0
    1999 - - - - - -
    2000 - Win2000- - - -
    2001 - XP - - - -
    2002 - - - - - .NET
    2003 - - - - - -
    2004 - - - - - -
    2005 - - - - - -
    2006 - - - - - -
    2007 - Vista - - - -
    2008 - - - - - -

Notes:

  • QBasic 1.0 was part of the MS-DOS 5.0 release in 1991.
  • QBasic 1.1 was part of the MS-DOS 6.0 release in 1993.

Other Timelines
In case you want additional information on the history of BASIC, here are some links that should fill in some of the blanks my short history has left out.