Roundup: Best Free Open Source BASIC Tools


BASIC (an acronym for Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming languages whose design philosophy emphasizes ease of use.

The original BASIC was designed in 1964 by John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. BASIC was first successfully used to run programs on the school’s General Electric computer system. They wanted to enable students in fields other than science and mathematics to use computers.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, when home computers were in their heyday, BASIC did as much as anything else to make them useful.

According to the TIOBE index, Visual Basic .NET is ranked as the 5th most popular programming language. BBC BASIC is ranked outside the top 50.

There is a good range of open source software available to write and compile BASIC programs. The table below shows our 11 recommended free BASIC software. Click the links to learn about the software.

Recommended BASIC Software
FreeBASICBASIC compiler that provides a high level of support for programs written for QuickBASIC
GambasDevelopment environment and a full powerful development platform
BaConBASIC to C converter
QB64QuickBASIC/QBasic compatible programming language for modern computers
Matrix Brandy BASICBBC Basic V interpreter
YaBasicYet another Basic
BASIC-256Designed to teach young children the basics of computer programming
X11-BASICDialect of the BASIC programming language with graphics capability
Mono BasicVisual Basic Compiler and Runtime
SmallBASICFast and easy to learn BASIC language interpreter
bwBASICBywater BASIC Interpreter

There are many other free BASIC tools. In alphabetical order:

  • Bas – an interpreter for the classic dialect of the programming language BASIC. It is pretty compatible to typical BASIC interpreters of the 1980s.
  • Basic for Qt – Multi-purpose computer programming language .
  • BBC BASIC for SDL 2.0 – a cross-platform implementation of BBC BASIC. The license is not stated.
  • BlitzMax – BASIC dialect, and the latest Blitz language by Blitz Research Limited.
  • Brandy Basic – implements Basic V, the dialect of Basic that Acorn Computers supplied with their ranges of desktop computers that use the ARM processor such as the Archimedes and RiscPC. Basic V is an extended version of BBC Basic. This was the Basic used on the BBC Micro that Acorn made during the early 1980s.
  • cbmbasic – portable version of Commodore’s version of Microsoft BASIC 6502 as found on the Commodore 64.
  • Euphoria – a BASIC-like programming language.
  • GLBCC – GNU/Liberty Basic Compiler Collection is a suite of tools designed to allow Windows and Linux users to compile Liberty Basic code to a standalone application.
  • HBasic – integrated development environment used to create, execute and debug programs with an BASIC style language.
  • Scriptbasic – a free BASIC interpreter.
  • sdlBasic – easy basic to make games in 2D style.
  • wxBasic – a Basic Interpreter that brings the easy to learn programming language Basic together with the power of the widely-used wxWidget library. The license is not stated.
  • wxfbe – a FreeBASIC editor.
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  • Hi,

    This comment is in relation to your sub-article on Matrix Brandy BASIC.

    Dave Daniels is the original author, however his work at Sourceforge hasn’t been touched since 2015.

    Since development there had stagnated, I decided to fork it, and MatrixBrandy is my fork where I’ve been working with the Stardot community to iron out remaining bugs and enhance the graphics capabilities (one of which you included in the article, I added Mode 7 teletext support) and some emulation of RISC OS operating system functions where they could be translated into SDL functionality.

  • R. W. "Ruedii" says:

    You might want to add tinybasic on here.

    While technically Public Domain, it was created as a copyleft action in response to Bill Gate’s “Open Letter” regarding the piracy of his Altar Basic.

    It is probably the program that started the Open Source revolution.
    It was written in assembler, but specifically in a manner designed to be highly portable. It is currently available for most major micro-controller platforms.

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