Famicom Family BASIC

I love BASIC! I don’t make a secret of it. It was the product, even before DOS, that launched Microsoft. It was invented to be the language to bring programming to the masses, and, for a short time, it fulfilled that function. (These days, if you want to learn coding, I suggest Python. Not only is it a lot more capable and modern, but you can actually get a job writing it.)

Used to be if you had a new computer you wanted families to buy, you had to have a version of BASIC to ship with it. The Apple II had two, one written by Steve Wozniak himself. Right off the top of my head, computer systems with BASIC, go! Altair, Apple II, Commodore Pet, Vic-20, 64, 128, Plus-4, 16, Atari 8-bit, TRS-80, MS-DOS, Windows (Visual BASIC carried the torch for many years), and, most improbably, the Atari VCS/2600, in its BASIC Programming cartridge, an effectively useless cart for its stated purpose that’s nonetheless an excellent hack. The machine has 128 bytes of RAM, but it can still run BASIC, by jove.

The Famicom has a version of BASIC too, coming in at the end of the language’s heyday. Over on the Peertube instance diode.zone, user RE:Enthused did a two-part introduction to it that may be of interested to people who still think in terms of FOR/NEXT loops.

Let’s look at Family Basic on the Famicom, Part 1 (8 minutes) and Part 2 (17 minutes).