True Basic Roots

A question, is True Basic written in C (not ++ or #) as is Python, i.e. essentially a C shell? If not, what is the underlying language?

Sid B


re: roots

I don't see it available here anymore, but the small book 'BACK TO BASIC' by Kemeny and Kurtz explains the roots of Basic that go back as far as 1956 and turned into a usable language by as early as 1964. True Basic was developed in about 1984 to address the bastardization of Basic by the early home computers (Apple and Commodore among those). So the roots are pre-C and fundamentally machine code oriented--Kurtz and Kemeny (with the help of system programmers at Dartmouth) developed the compiler. The more recent programmers have referred to B-code when working with the language core. I'd look for the book online.

The True Basic libraries and indeed Big John's Editor are all written in the language itself.

I will quote from the book the basic design parameters for the language.

1. It shoudl be easy to learn for the beginner.
2. It should be a generarl-purpose language, allowing the writing of any program.
3. Advanced features had to be added so that, if there was a price, it was paid by the expert, not the novice.
4. It should take full advantage of the fact that the user could interact with the computer.
5. It should give error messages that were clear and friendly to the user.
6. It should give fast response for small programs.
7. No understanding of the hardware should be necessary.
8. It should shield the user from the operating system.

It was #8 that attracted me as I was transitioning from my early educational work with Commodore-64s, moving to the Amiga (True Basic was available for it) to the PC and the MAC. I will say that the MAC was always a problem, especially with animation graphics, as our 'friends' at Apple decided to redefine fundamental graphic standards and finally broke MAC TrueBasic by obsoleting System 9 software.

There isn't much detail about the nuts and bolts of the 1984 version of TrueBasic other than it was based on American National Standard for Basic (almost by not entirely conforming) and of course the earlier version of BASIC as developed by K & K.