Posts Timeline: BASIC to Visual Basic .NET

Timeline: BASIC to Visual Basic .NET


Dartmouth BASIC by J.G Kemeney & T. E. Kurtz @ Dartmouth College
John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz invents BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) and its compiler. The first BASIC program is ran at 4 a.m. 1st of May, 1964.


The term Hypertext coined by Ted Nelson.


Dartmouth BASIC fifth version by J.G Kemeney & T. E. Kurtz @ Dartmouth College

Charles Goldfarb, Ed Losher and Ray Lorie invent Generalized Mark-up Language (GML) at IBM.


General Electric ships the fifth version of (Dartmouth) BASIC with their systems.

BASIC-E by G. Eubanks
Gordon Eubanks (The CEO and president of Symantec) developed BASIC-E. BASIC-E used a technique similar to the one currently used by Java; instructions were transformed into a kind of intermediate code and then converted into machine readable code. Eubanks also did not protect BASIC-E but he did with his following version, CBASIC. CBASIC was marketed by his company, Compiler Systems (which in 1981 was acquired by Digital Research).


BASIC the Sixth by J.G Kemeney & T. E. Kurtz @ Dartmouth College


Dennis Ritchie creates the C-language. This language is based on the B-language, and is named C to honor the BCPL language. For a while this language's name was NB. The C-compiler is included in the Unix operatingsystem and its use increases explosively, outside Bell. To C's strong parts belongs simplicity, efficiency and flexibility. Moving C to other operating systems is easier than most of other languages. Acording to some, C combines both the elegance and efficiency of machine language and the high-level language readability and maintenance.


The documentation for C appears.

Work begins by ANSI committees form for both minimal BASIC and Standard BASIC.

Charles Goldfarb evolves GML into Standard Generalized Mark-up Language (SGML).


TinyBASIC by B. Albrecht & D. Allison
Which takes only 2K of memory and is loaded from a paperstripe. It can function on almost all of Intels 8080-machines and Zilogs Z80 machines. In a typical PC there is 4K's of memory, so then 2K's of memory will be free for the program itself. Tiny BASIC is the first known freeware program. The textstrings "All Wrongs Reserved" and "Copyleft" was found in this program.

Altair BASIC by B. Gates & P. Allen
Bill Gates and Paul Allen writes a version of BASIC which they sell to MITS. MITS produces 8080-based Altair-microcomputers. This was the first appearance of interpreted BASIC. Allen and Gates decided for an interpreter to overcome the limited amount of memory avilable, and, in fact, they were able to pack everything in 4K. A compiled language would not have left enough memory for both running the program and holding the data. The interpreted BASIC had another advantage, it was more interactive making debugging easier. Kemeney and Kurtz were very critical toward the interpreted language, despite this, some years later they acknowledged the positive effect interpreted BASIC had on the diffusion of BASIC.


First Documented Case Of Software Piracy - Bill Gates writes "An Open Letter to Hobbyists" complaining of first major case of software piracy - Altair BASIC was copied widely even before Microsoft made it available (Bill Gates lost track of a copy on paper tape during a computer show).


Commodore BASIC (developed by Microsoft) for the Commodore PET computer.


ANSI issued the Minimal BASIC specification: one for Minimal Basic in 1978 (specification X3.60-1978)

NOTE: By the end of the 1970s home computers appeared with their own BASIC version: Radio Shack Level 1 BASIC (TRS 80), Apple Integer BASIC (Apple II, 1977), Timex Sinclair 1000 BASIC (Sinclair ZX80, 1980), Sinclair ZX81 BASIC (Sinclair ZX81, 1981), PET BASIC (Commodore PET, 1977), Atari BASIC (Atari 400/800, both 1978), Commodore BASIC (VIC 20 in 1981 & C64 in 1982), TI-BASIC (Texas TI-99), and so on.


MS-DOS 1.0 and BASICA ships - August 12, 1981



March - IBM releases BASCOM 1.0 (developed by Microsoft)


J.G Kemeney & T. E. Kurtz form TrueBASIC, Inc. and release TrueBASIC based on Dartmouth BASIC 7.0

March - Microsoft BASIC Compiler System v5.35 for MS-DOS


April - Microsoft BASIC Compiler 5.36

ISO standards body issues ISO 6373-1984 for the Minimal BASIC

Microsoft BASIC 1.0 for the Apple Macintosh
Microsoft BASIC 2.0 for the Apple Macintosh


August - Microsoft QuickBASIC 1.0
IBM released BASCOM 2.0 (developed by Microsoft)

Commodore BASIC for the Commodore 128


January - Microsoft QuickBASIC 1.01
Febuary - Microsoft QuickBASIC 1.02
August - Microsoft QuickBASIC 2.00

Microsoft BASIC 3.0 for the Apple Macintosh

International Standards Organization (ISO) standardizes Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML).


January - Microsoft QuickBASIC 2.01
April - Microsoft QuickBASIC 3.00
October - Microsoft QuickBASIC 4.00

Microsoft BASIC 6.0

ANSI issues the Standard BASIC specification (specification X3.113-1987)

Alan Cooper, the then Director of Applications Software for Coactive Computing Corporation, wrote a program called Ruby that delivered visual programming to the average programmer/user. A prototype was demonstrated to Bill Gates.

Borland releases Turbo BASIC (developed by Bob Zale).


Febuary - Microsoft QuickBASIC 4.00a
June - Microsoft QuickBASIC 4.00b
October - Microsoft QuickBASIC 4.50

Microsoft QuickBASIC 1.0 for the Apple Macintosh


Microsoft BASIC Professional Development System 7.0


Microsoft BASIC Professional Development System 7.1

Networked Information Project begins at CERN (European Laboratory for Particle Physics) by Tim Berners-Lee.  The beginnings of Hypter-Text Markup Language (HTML) and the World Wide Web (WWW).

PowerBASIC, Inc. forms and releases PowerBASIC (previous Borland Turbo BASIC)


Microsoft QBasic 1.0 ships with MS-DOS 5.0

ISO standards body issues ISO 10279-1991 for the Full BASIC

Microsoft QuickBASIC 1.0e for the Apple Macintosh

May - Microsoft Visual Basic 1.0 for Windows
Visual Basic 1.0 for Windows was first released on May 20, 1991 at the Windows World convention in Atlanta Georgia.

Tim Berners-Lee initiates the first global hyper-media system.


November - Microsoft Visual Basic 2.0
VB version 2.0 for Windows (November 1992) was faster, more powerful and easier to use than version 1. VB 2 was also available in a freeware student release called the Primer edition. 


Microsoft Visual Basic 3.0
Visual Basic 3.0 (1993) added tools to access and control databases and Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) version 2. It came in Standard and Professional versions.

Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications 1.0 (Excel 5 and Project 4)

Microsoft QBasic 1.1 ships with MS-DOS 6.0


Microsoft Visual Basic 4.0
Visual Basic 4 was released in 1995 and supported the new Windows 95 family of 32-bit operating systems. The Professional Edition could also compile code to run on the older 16-bit Windows 3.x systems. 

Microsoft Visual Basic Scripting Edition (VBScript) 1.0

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) proposes standard for Extensible Markup Language (XML).

November - HTML 2.0 (RFC1866) - Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)


Microsoft Visual Basic 5.0
With the introduction of Visual Basic version 5 in early 1997, 16-bit systems were no longer supported. Between versions 4 and 5, significant changes were made in the user interface. Visual Basic 5 added, among other things, the ability to create true executables and to create your own custom controls. It also supported Microsoft's Active-X technology.

January - HTML 3.2 (W3C)

HTML 4.0 (W3C)


Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0
Visual Basic 6 (VB6) was introduced in 1998 and was included as part of a package known as Visual Studio 6.0. VB6 added new capabilities in the areas of data access, Internet features, controls, component creation, language features and wizards. To quote Microsoft's web site, "Visual Basic 6.0 features provide graphical, integrated data access to any ODBC or OLE DB data source, and additional database-design tools for Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server™-based databases. New Web development features bring the easy-to-use, component-based programming model of Visual Basic to the creation of HTML- and Dynamic HTML (DHTML)-based applications."

SOAP / XML-RPC development began between Don Box, Dave Winer, Bob Atkinson and Mohsen Al-Ghosein at Microsoft.

Febuary - World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) finalize specification for XML 1.0.


Febuary - Microsoft Visual Basic .NET 7.0

DarkBASIC - A BASIC language that merges DirectX 9 directly into the base language. (not sure of the intitial date on this one).


Febuary - Microsoft Visual Basic .NET 7.1


February - The Visual Basic .NET Programming Language by Paul Vick book available.

March - Announcement that next version of Visual Studio (code named Whidbey) will be called Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Basic .NET will return to being called Visual Basic (dropping the .NET moniker).  .NET is here to stay and we can quit calling it VB.NET and return to just calling it VB (or VB 8.0)...

March - Second drop of the pre-alpha version of Whidbey (Visual Studio 2005) released to the general public.  Microsoft plans to make more pre-releases throughout the development of Whidbey.

Additional References

Microsoft BASIC Version Information (DOS-based versions)
Bill Gates Interview - Playboy 1994
The History of Visual Basic and BASIC on the PC
World Wide Web and HTML original proposal by Tim Berners-Lee
TrueBASIC, Inc.
PowerBASIC, Inc.

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