Many people, one way or another, got started programming computers using some kind of Basic. The language was developed at Dartmouth specifically so people could write simple programs without much training. However, Basic found roots in small computers and grew to where it is today, virtually unrecognizable. Writing things in something like Visual Basic may be easier than some programming tasks, but it requires a lot of tools and some reading or training. We aren’t sure where the name EndBasic came from, but this program — written in Rust — aims to bring Basic back to a simpler time. Sort of.

You can run the program in a browser, locally, or connected to a cloud service. It looks like old-fashioned Basic at first. But the more you dig in, the odder it gets. The command line is more akin to a Python REPL. You type things, and they happen. It took a while to figure out that you need to enter EDIT to write a program. Then, what you type gets saved until you press escape. The syntax is Basic-like but has oddities. There are no line numbers, but you can use labels that start with an at sign.

If you want to see the program in action, try a game of Snake. Press Q to quit, and you can see the program by typing LIST. You’ll see something like this:

Although it looks text-based, you can do graphics. There’s even a way to connect to a Raspberry Pi and do physical I/O. For learning this looks interesting. There’s nothing to deploy in a classroom setting and there’s collaboration and help tools. On the other hand, it probably isn’t that practical for real-world things or, at least, not what you would want to use.

Maybe we are old-fashioned, but we like real old-school Basic better. You can load Basic on a Raspberry Pi Pico, for example, and have a machine that would have been practically a supercomputer when most people were getting started with Basic.