Microsoft Open Sources GW-BASIC

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  • GW-BASIC is a BASIC interpreter, written in assembly language
  • As the source code of GW-BASIC was written fully in assembly language, there is no source code in C for GW-BASIC

Microsoft has open-sourced GW-BASIC on GitHub. It had released the first version of GW-BASIC for the IBM PC on 10th February 1983. GW-BASIC is a BASIC interpreter, written in assembly language.

Rich Turner, senior program manager of Windows Console and Command-Line at Microsoft said in a post, “These sources, as clearly stated in the repo’s readme, are the 8088 assembly language sources from 10th Feb 1983, and are being open-sourced for historical reference and educational purposes. This means we will not be accepting PRs that modify the source in any way.”

No source code in C for GW-BASIC

Turner also said that Microsoft’s BASIC implementations can be traced back to Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s implementation of the first product for Microsoft which was a BASIC interpreter for the Altair 8800. As the source code of GW-BASIC was written fully in assembly language, there is no source code in C for GW-BASIC.

Assembly language was used back then language instead of high-level languages for software as the compilers for such languages were often very expensive. They seldom generated efficient code and there were space and performance constraints of home and personal computers of that time.

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