Thursday, October 21, 2004

History of Basic vs. History of Java

The other evening I was talking with a friend of mine about the roots of Basic. My friend thought that Basic was written by Bill Gates. I didn't think that was the case. I found a site that summarized the history of Basic. Basic was written to assist students who were in the process of learning how to program. While Basic was not created by Bill Gates, Basic received a breath of new life as Bill Gates brought Basic into the PC world. This was all in the early 1970's.

Java, on the other hand, has a much shorter history. Java was born in the early 90's. By this time, OO techniques were really catching on. It is not surprising that OO concepts were included in the implementation of Java.

While the first object oriented paper was published in 1965, OO did not become widely accepted by the development community until well after the first release of Basic, into the late 80's. In response to OO programming, and possibly in response to the success of Java, Microsoft redesigned the Visual Studio platform into the .Net release that we have today. My question is this: In rewritting Basic into Visual Basic, and eventually into Visual Basic .Net, has Microsoft enhanced an easy-to-learn programming language into a powerful OO tool? Or has Microsoft been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Square peg + Round Hole = PO'ed programmers.

The company I work for develops a programming language that is very similar to VisualBasic 6 (except it compiles cross platform application and is single executable instead of relying on you to distribute dlls), and the one thing we hear over and over again from new customers is that they used to be VB programmers until... yup, you guessed it -- until VB.NET. They realize that MS is going to put all their energy into .NET and so they feel the need to go find a new tool. From what I hear, they do one of three things. 1) Go to .NET, 2) Go back to VB 5 since the VB 5 dlls come on every system or 3) Come to us (I like this option the best!).

I think .NET makes a lot of sense for C++ programmers since it's not that big of a leap for them. But forcing .NET onto VB programmers is missing the boat IMHO.

~Aaron

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