Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 123 / NOVEMBER 1990 / PAGE 17

BASIC or Pascal?

I have a question about the computer programming theme in the May 1990 issue of COMPUTE! Magazine. I want to know if I should start with BASIC or Pascal. I've heard that BASIC teaches bad habits and that Pascal is the choice of educators. Others say that structured BASIC is more versatile. I intend to teach myself.


With the introduction of Microsoft QuickBASIC 4.5, BASIC gained credibility. It's just as powerful, structured, and educationally valuable as Pascal. What's more, BASIC continues to evolve while Pascal doesn't seem to make any real advances (in spite of Borland's object-oriented thrust).

BASIC programs can be run as interpreted programs, which means that you can test your code as you go instead of compiling it each time you want to run the program.

Languages themselves don't teach bad habits, programmers learn them on their own. While BASIC lets you make conceptual mistakes like using all global variables, so does Pascal.

Most pedagogical tools use Pascal since it has been so widely accepted in educational circles. But reworking Pascal code into BASIC is fairly simple.