BASIC

Stands for "Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code." BASIC is a computer programming language that was developed in the mid-1960s to provide a way for students to write simple computer programs. Since then, the language has evolved into a more robust and powerful language and can be used to create advanced programs for today's computer systems.

BASIC originally used numbers at the beginning of each instruction (or line) to tell the computer what order to process the instructions. Lines would be numbered as 10, 20, 30, etc., which would allow additional instructions to be placed between commands later on if needed. "GOTO" statements enabled programs to loop back to earlier instructions during execution. For example, line 230 of a BASIC program may have an "if" clause that tells the computer to jump back to line 50 if a variable is less than 10. This instruction might look something like this:

230 IF (N < 10) THEN GOTO 50

More modern BASIC implementations use "while loops," which perform a series of instructions as long as a certain case is true. Newer BASIC development software also supports more data types, such as integers, strings, and arrays, for storing variables and other data. While the first BASIC development environments were strictly text-based, today's BASIC programming software allows developers to design much of their programs visually, using a graphical user interface. Some of the more popular BASIC development programs used today include REALbasic and Microsoft Visual Basic.

Updated 2006

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