Microsoft open sources GWBASIC

cclist at cclist at
Sun May 31 13:00:42 CDT 2020

On 2020-05-30 15:21, Fred Cisin via cctalk wrote:
> On Fri, 29 May 2020, Chuck Guzis via cctalk wrote:
>> Oh, FORTRAN can do likewise--I suspect that most languages can be 
>> coaxed
>> (perhaps with some assembly-language subroutines)to do something 
>> nasty.
> "A real programmer can write a FORTRAN program in any language."
> But, a REAL programmer, such as Chuck, can write any language program

Microsoft FORTRAN-80 was actually pretty decent.  I wrote a utility to 
transfer PDP-11 RX01-formatted floppy files to CP/M using it, but for 
the disk access routines themselves, which were done in M80.  I still 
have the disk with the source code.

Because F80 was uncharacteristically decent, I assumed that it wasn't 
really a Microsoft product.

Intel FORTRAN for ISIS-II was a massive undertaking, according to the 
Intel folks I spoke with.  Expensive, too.

> In addition to GWBASIC, don't forget BASCOM, the Microsoft BASIC 
> compiler.
> It's top two uses were
> 1) a small speed improvement
> 2) marketing a program written in BASIC without revealing the source 
> code.

Another indication that MS really didn't know how to write compilers.  
At an NCC (I think; it may have been a COMDEX or WCCF--they all sort of 
blur together after 40-some years), a few fellows took it on themselves 
to benchmark BASIC compilers lurking about in the floor.  Our 
compile-to-pcode compiler consistently beat the trousers off of BASCOM.

You can see evidence of that on the web where various mini and micro 
BASICs were benchmarked.  The 80286 port of ours came in just below a 
VAX 11/780 and ahead of the microprocessor crowd, including some NS32032 
systems.   And we were mult-user in addition.

I still have my original design document printed on greenbar 
tractor-feed paper on a Teletype Model 40 line printer.  Three of us 
wrote the whole thing in four months, complete with math and runtime.   
I have the t-shirt to prove it.

Please excuse the horn-tooting, but there are a few things that I'm 
still proud of--and a lot of abominations that I don't want to talk 


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