- Microsoft has just released the GW BASIC source code.
- It was one of the most popular programming languages of the 80s and 90s.
- Today it is hardly used, but Microsoft has decided to release it for educational purposes, due to the large number of requests received.
BASIC language is very special to Microsoft. The first application the company put up for sale, just a few months after it was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, was a BASIC interpreter for the Altair 8800 computer. Almost 50 years later, Microsoft released the GW BASIC source code , developed for PC computers.
The BASIC language was very popular in the 80s and 90s of the last century. Although slow and underpowered, it was very easy to learn, so it was the first language learned in computer academies or universities. It was also a language installed as standard on early home computers, such as the ZX Spectrum or the Amstrad CPC.
Microsoft developed GW BASIC for PC in 1983 , and continued to release updates until 1988. It was used to learn computing, and even commercial applications were developed. Today it is a language that is still used, but in more advanced versions, with more possibilities.
Microsoft has released this weekend the GW BASIC source code, specifically the version of February 10, 1983. And why has it done so? As he explains in his developer blog, due to the large number of requests he had received after releasing the MS-DOS source code a couple of years ago.
This code is of interest for educational and historical reasons only, as recognized by Microsoft itself. But it is a gesture that many programmers and students of the history of computing will appreciate.
This is the source code in machine language (assembler) , which is how this language was programmed. There is no C language version of the code, as with other software. In those years, languages were developed directly in assembler.
An interesting fact is that Microsoft releases the code for study purposes, but does not allow to modify it . It is also the version code created for the 808x processors. It does not have other versions.
If you want to browse the instructions in Microsoft GW BASIC machine code a bit , you can download the code on GitHub .
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