BASIC was used on large machines. BASIC was used on large projects. Data processing, is data processing. There are bazillions of lines of BASIC that have been written historically, and are being used to this very day.
I’ll never forget talking to this lady at a clothing company extolling the wonders of here entire, custom distribution system written in BASIC running on their monster, 64 CPU Sequent. (At this time, yes, this was a Big Machine). And, yes, were talking basic BASIC. She was quite proud of her convention that Z9 was the error status variable everywhere in her code.
Very sophisticated systems have been written in BASIC. I’ve written some of them.
Interactive resource scheduling, planning, and allocation, in a networked environment, driving a slew of status displays? (Queues, remote processing, best fit heuristics, custom protocols, data driven, on the fly display formatting) Yea, I did that. Seamless integration with the work order system helped a lot (150+ users on a 33MHz 68030 for that system). Pre-TCP/IP, mind. This system drove an entire war room that was the scheduling hub for this company. The President of the company liked to come in and look at the displays and say with a smile “My, aren’t we busy!”. Airport displays had nothing on this thing.
Street level truck routing, scheduling, and pathing? Geo coding, address validation, routing a dozen trucks across 1000 pickups in 20m of runtime? In the early 90’s? Pre-GPS. Yea, I did that too, The map viewer was in C. The rest of the backend was all BASIC. Yea, Google can do this in a nano-second today. Not so much back then.
And make no mistake, outside of longer variable names, this was your typical BASIC, not some fancy BASIC. It had ISAM integration.
BASIC without line numbers is still BASIC. Visual Basic in BASIC. All of that stuff you learned typing games in to your C64 is much more applicable to a VB program than it is to Pascal, C, or anything else. Once you get past the event dispatching and GUI interface it’s still A$ = "Hello " + A$ in the end. DIM B(10). Alan Kay could only dream that Smalltalk were as successful as VB3 or VB6 was.
Would I chose BASIC for a greenfield project today? No. I’m a Java guy. But that doesn’t mean BASIC was not, or IS not a totally successful language that’s let a lot of people empower their businesses and other activities. Which is what this is all about in the end anyway. Empowering people to use their computers to improve their operations. Whether’s its a custom PICK distribution system, or a slew of awful VBA macros in a nightmare Excel spreadsheet.
And speaking of successful, dare we explore how many billions of lines of RPG there are floating around out there? And how successful those information systems based upon that relic are?