I am preparing an article on the ANSI "full BASIC" effort.

I know it was heavily criticized at the time, but Google is turning up a surprising paucity of information.

I can only find a single SIGPLAN Notices note from Guntheroth. Does anyone have any reference works that might have more details and/or notes?

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    IIRC ANSI BASIC was a superset of ECMA BASIC, mostly the graphics module, wasn't it? I do not remember much critique about ECMA BASIC, which was rather widely accepted as common sense across most platforms. Negative comments I remember were rather from various fractions that did miss their specific extensions, which of course were superior ... as usual. The only real downturn about ANSI BASIC was its non-free status. But these are just faint memories. After all, at the time BASIC was already on the way out. Only BASICs with high OS/GUI integration did still make some sense.
    – Raffzahn
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 22:19
  • The ANSI Basic document starts with a full page list of names of committee antendees. Have you tried hunting down and contacting any of them? (I recognized only one, who has long since passed away...)
    – hotpaw2
    Commented May 9, 2022 at 23:58
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    @hotpaw2 - yes I found three emails, all bounced. Commented May 10, 2022 at 15:52
  • was it heavily criticized, apart from this SIGPLAN notice? At best it was ignored, at worst it appears to me it was an attempt to codify BASIC to Dartmouth standards that had already de facto been blown away by Microsoft, perhaps even to prop up K & K's own True BASIC. Curiously, MS toyed with decimal floats in their interpreters (see MSX, Tandy 100) around the time of the ANSI Standard release, so maybe it had more impact at the time than we can know
    – scruss
    Commented May 11, 2022 at 21:28

1 Answer 1


A little Googling turned up a 1985 newsgroup post on the subject from Kurt Guntheroth, followed by an angry reply from Andrew Klossner (vice chair, ANSI BASIC committee)


It's brief and informal but might help place Guntheroth's position in relation to the committee.

Maybe more useful is this contemporary article in Byte magazine. It covers the process involved with setting up the standard, a summary of positive reactions, a summary of negative reactions and the philosophy behind ANSI BASIC.

PROPOSED ANSI BASIC STANDARD Anderson, Ronald Byte v.8 no.2 ,pp. 194, 196, 198 - 199 , 1983 , 0360-5280 , McGraw-Hill etc

It's online at: Byte Magazine Volume 08 Number 02 - Standards on the Internet Archive.

archive.org and books.google.com might be fruitful places to search.

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    Mind to give an overview/abstract what the linked documents tell, or what the important points are, so the answer would stand on its own?
    – Raffzahn
    Commented May 13, 2022 at 15:32
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    My precis: "a standard is meant to codify existing practice, not make up an entirely new language".
    – dave
    Commented May 14, 2022 at 2:34
  • @another-dave what else? :))
    – Raffzahn
    Commented May 15, 2022 at 15:44
  • Funny that the BYTE article refers to VAX BASIC, and contrasting that with the SIGPLAN notes. At the time, at my office, we called VAX BASIC "Bascaltran". Commented May 16, 2022 at 2:00

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