Larry Wall on BASIC - Fortune

Larry Wall on BASIC

Now, however it was initially intended, I think BASIC turned out to be one of the first major scripting languages, especially the extended version that DEC put onto its minicomputers called BASIC/PLUS, which happily included recursive functions with arguments. I started out as a BASIC programmer. Some people would say that I'm permanently damaged. Some people are undoubtedly right.

But I'm not going to apologize for that. All language designers have their occasional idiosyncrasies. I'm just better at it than most. :-)

Anyway, when I was a RSTS programmer on a PDP-11, I certainly treated BASIC as a scripting language, at least in terms of rapid prototyping and process control. I'm sure it warped my brain forever. Perl's statement modifiers are straight out of BASIC/PLUS. It even had some cute sigils on the ends of its variables to distinguish string and integer from floating point.

But you could do extreme programming. In fact, I had a college buddy I did pair programming with. We took a compiler writing class together and studied all that fancy stuff from the dragon book. Then of course the professor announced we would be implementing our own language, called PL/0. After thinking about it a while, we announced that we were going to do our project in BASIC. The professor looked at us like were insane. Nobody else in the class was using BASIC. And you know what? Nobody else in the class finished their compiler either. We not only finished but added I/O extensions, and called it PL 0.5. That's rapid prototyping.

Author Larry Wall
Work "Programming is Hard, Let's Go Scripting"