I first used QBasic when I was 12 years old, when my dad acquired some old Windows 3.1 PCs from a work clear out. QBasic was not the first programming language I had used, but it represented the first time I did programming as a hobby; as something I enjoyed doing in my spare time. Before then, my experience with programming was with MSX BASIC, when I was around 6 years younger.

Between the ages of 12-17, this was my programming language of choice. This was for the following reasons:

  • I had access to some fantastic programming books, including from the library at the school I was in at the time. Some of the books I was using include Basic Computer Games by Creative Computing, as well as the Usborne series of BASIC programming books. These games and examples were easily transferable into QBasic.
  • QBasic has an interactive help system. I enjoyed navigating through it a lot, and I learned a great deal by going through it, using the example code, and changing the code around so that I could see what each line did.
  • To this day, I still think that QBasic is one of the most fun programming languages to use. There was very little boilerplate code required, it did not require line numbers so that inserting new code wasn’t a hassle, and the code is interpreted in real time so that you can quickly run the program whenever you wanted to without waiting for the code to compile (this comes at a performance cost).

I made some simple games using QBasic, including quizzes, a 4 player Nibbles-like game with AI, as well as trying to reproduce Ultima IV, Command & Conquer and Lemmings with varying amounts of success. Unfortunately, I don’t know if any of the programs I made in QBasic are still around anymore. I no longer have the computers, and I don’t know if the floppy disks are still around.

During this time, I also had a Sony PlayStation. One day, I bought an Action Replay cheat cartridge for the purpose that it was designed for (because I was a filthy cheater). The cheat cartridge included a RAM Search feature and a Memory Editor. They are designed so that you could create your own Action Replay cheat codes, but I found myself mesmerized by the whole thing. I changed the contents of the RAM with complete disregard for the consequences. It was through this that I learned about hexadecimal, the basics of memory allocation, and how to trigger awful chain reactions that would crash the game.