Small Basic

Who didn’t cut their first programming teeth on the BASIC (Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) language.  It’s known for a lot of things:

  • ease of use;
  • powerful yet simple;
  • teaches a certain programming paradigm;
  • available on virtually any platform.

I know that it was one of the first languages that I learned and I still have a copy kicking around on my computers.  Every now and again, I’ll need to write a quick little ditty to do something and I’ll fire up BASIC to do the job.  I still think of it as a great personal programming language and can see many advantages of using it as a first programming platform.

To help the process, Microsoft has developed and released a product called Small Basic.  It’s in a section that they call Kid’s Corner but this big kid likes it too.

It’s a small download but the MSI package lands easily and installs in a couple of minutes.

And then, you’re ready to begin!


The development window is nice and friendly and there is contextual help every step of the way to help you with the language constructs.

It’s more than just your MSBasic memories though!  Included in the language is the ability to manipulate graphics, play music, and manipulate turtle graphics.  I think it’s the perfect language to interest young programmers.

Small Basic gets social as well.  In the best spirit of collaboration, you don’t have to email code or the like.  The “publish” button sends your work into the cloud and you get a token in exchange.  Share that token with your collaborators and you’re off to the races.

The program comes with a good PDF reference file to learn the language and the syntax.  From a teachers’ perspective, there is great support for learning materials.  Blogs and forums allow for the discussion of materials and there are Powerpoint files to support the teaching of Small Basic.  Even if you’re not looking to use the program itself, the support files should inspire you in ways to create your own lessons.


If you have a few megs of storage space on your hard drive, this is a handy package to download and have available.  Quite easily, you can hammer out a solution to a problem on a personal basis.  And, for the family computer, it’s a nice place to introduce programming.



  1. Oh my goodness, this brings back memories! I did a little programming in University with Waterloo Basic, which is why I think I love using Logo (MicroWorlds JR) with the little ones.

    I think I’ll have to check this out…thanks Doug!


  2. I think that so many of us who used the Icon computer used Watcom Basic and Watcom Pascal at one point, Brenda. While they are nice, they pale in comparison with what Microsoft has build into its Small Basic. Please give it a shot. You will be pleasantly surprised.


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