Tiny Basic revisited again

Since my last post on this subject, and discovering Tom Pittman’s web site, I got to thinking about how much I miss the simplicity of this nifty little language.  Running it on my current machine, however, seems kind of stupid. Sooooo…I’m thinking about developing a version for my Motorola Q smartphone.  Back in the hey day of Tiny Basic, you really did need to worry about every bit of memory.  A byte of RAM could have multiple meanings where each BIT meant something.  Challenges like this, as it turned out, was my idea of fun then.  It still is.  However, today, in my job especially, I have become a lazy ‘contemporary’ programmer.  I use Lotus Notes and Visual Studio to develop software.  Lotus Notes is probably the worst offender:  native Notes applications require the Notes client, which is just a monster of an application itself.  Notes applications, though, are very similar to the Basic interpreters from the 80’s:  code is tokenized and interpreted at run time.  Newer versions of Notes handle the code more like Java (in fact, the Lotusscript engine is Java, if I am not mistaken.) Anyway, I tried to think of a device that was limited in memory and would be kind of interesting to develop a language that would work on the device and let you code on the device itself.  Well, I thought of the Palm platform, but there are already a plethora of on board languages to choose from: cBasPad, Hotpaw Basic, onboardC, fourth, smallBasic, etc.  Then I looked at my phone.  Bingo!  I tried and tried but could not find a Basic for Windows Mobile 5 smartphones.  AHA!  Since Mr. Pittman has already ported his Tiny Basic to Visual Studio, it should not be hard to adapt it to the Smartphone.  So, that is my project.  If I cannot do that, then I will roll my own—something I’ve done in the past, several times.  If the adaptation works, then I will make available a copy for you to play with, assuming, of course, Mr. Pittman allows it.  I will seek permission first.

BONUS language

There was another cool little language called PILOT.  Pilot was originally developed for teachers to use.  The language was quite simple.  In the early eighties, Byte Magazine published an article roughly called ‘WADUZITDO…how to write a language in 256 Bytes’.  The author did, in fact, create a stripped down version of Pilot that fit in 256 BYTES of memory.  I am going to also port that over as well.  Since the code will be original, I can publish that.  The original source is Pascal and 6800 assembler….both useless to me today.  I am going to use Visual Studio for that as well.  A program in this language looked something like this:

T:Hello! This is an example of a Waduzitdo program.

T:What is your name


T:Hi /Name/.

T:What is 2+2?




T:Sorry, the answer is 4.



T:That’s Right!



You can probably surmise that this little language was not overly useful and you’d be right. It was more of an exercise to show what you could do with a computer (remember, it was the early 80’s) than a useful language. The syntax was simple: T for Type, A for Ask, M for Match, J for Jump. Y and N meant yes and no.  I’ll have a better write up when I’m done.  Maybe I’ll expand it a bit, but not too much. I would like to stay true to the original.  I’ll also see if I can find the article on line.  I’m sure it’s there somewhere! Here.


One thought on “Tiny Basic revisited again

  1. Pingback: The next big thing is small, but…WADUZITDO? | ye old Half Byte blog

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