BBC BASIC turns 25Published: 2nd Aug 2006, 23:49:27 | Permalink | Printable
Many happy RETURNsBBC BASIC, the language that inspired a generation of British geeks, marked its 25th birthday earlier this week. Created in 1981 by Sophie Wilson at Acorn for the BBC Computer Literacy Project, the programming language is still built into modern versions of RISC OS, and is available on some 30 platforms in total.
The prevalence of Acorn kit in schools and nerdy households in the 1980s and early 1990s sparked a computing revolution in the UK, turning many of yesterday's geeky school kids into today's electronics and software engineers.
Ex-BBC research engineer Richard Russell, who ported the language to Microsoft Windows, said: "In the early 1980s the BBC set out to educate the public in the use of computers.
"It was soon realised that the wide variety of different machines operating systems and languages of the day would cause difficulties. The decision was made to target the educational material at a standard machine running a standard language, thus the BBC Microcomputer and BBC BASIC were born.
"BBC BASIC was designed to be simple enough for the complete beginner yet powerful enough to meet the needs of the most sophisticated and complex programs.
"That is as true today as it was 25 years ago, with extensions to the language having made it even more powerful without sacrificing its fundamental simplicity. No other programming language covers such a wide range of abilities and applications."
AdvantageSix, who manufacture the A9 range of RISC OS computers, believe Acorn's BASIC is versatile enough to be used as a rapid application development language.
Ad6's Matt Edgar said: "Having a simple yet powerful programming language which could also be used as a pretty decent macro-assembler available out of the box on all Acorn machines was probably a big influence on many RISC OS programmers. It's certainly where I started."
BBC BASIC birthday
An interview with Sophie Wilson
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