Talk:Data General Business Basic

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Although I know the B32 story well, I'm relying on memory for many details of the DG Business Basic. There was an article written for the magazine Focus in the late 1980s by George Henne on the history of Business Basic; I'll try to find it, but if anyone from Data General, Transoft or Bluebird sees this, please add material.--Gadfium 06:21, 11 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The origin of DG Business Basic is a bit more detailed than described above. I do not know the full history, I can give a bit more information. The language was developed by a company called TAC in Atlanta, Georgia. Data General bought TAC for the language. The owner of the company I worked for was an employee of TAC. I have contacted him for more information regarding this language. Until there is more detailed information, I am reluctant to update the main page. User aafej on 08 Sep 2006.

More on TAC and Business Basic. TAC developed a Business Fortran for Data General Computers about 1973. It has a small following. I was their Data General salesman at the time and suggested they do the same for DG's multi-user Basic. Pulling a few strings inside the plant I got TAC a papertape copy of the Source of multiuser basic. The end result became quite popular. It worked well, no bugs, hardly any support needed. It took a while for DG to acquire rights as DG has developed a competing product, ICobol, for their machines. This was a multiuser Cobol environment. However, ICobol was relatively clunky and never achieved the success of Business Basic.

DG never acquired TAC. TAC had substantial business producing inks with special isotope mixtures used to print lottery tickets . . impossible to counterfeit.

Paul Charbonnet Paul@fasttrack.net —Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.248.67.198 (talk) 03:59, 5 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Even more on TAC and Business BASIC -- The company I used to work for (Management Systems, Inc. in Atlanta) was the second customer of TAC Business BASIC in 1974 (the first was Tractor & Equipment company in Birmingham). We worked with TAC to help us design and develop an interactive mini-computer based billing system for doctor's offices. I remember going over to the TAC offices on West Wieuca Road in Atlanta, watching Jim Evans (TAC Business BASIC's dad) and Ed Camp (midwife) slip a 2.5 megabyte disk cartridge into their Nova 2, boot up the RDOS system and show me how it could run 4 users on dumb terminals at 300 baud. We signed the contract and were off and running with TAC, and we even became Data General resellers ourselves. Paul Charbonnet will remember the name Marlin Nelson, who was our DG sales rep. When TAC sold BBASIC non-exclusively to Data General, we stayed with the TAC version which was enhanced way better than what DG did to the language. Because of ICOBOL, DG always considered BBASIC to be a red-headed stepchild.

Anyway, I went to work at TAC in 1980 and served as senior programmer and eventual project manager for several of the custom software development projects. I remember I was working late at TAC the night Andy Miyakawa and his engineers wheeled TAC's first IBM PC down the hall on a hand truck. When they got it assembled, they showed us the analog clock program (still in green screen only) and we all went wow! That's when the engineers started developing "Irma", a PC add-in board that would make the PC emulate an IBM 3270 mainframe terminal. The catch was that the PC + Irma would be a fraction of the cost of a 3270. TAC hired clever marketing guys and Irma sales went crazy. TAC then sold BBASIC to Data General for the second time, and began to exit the commercial software market which was by now only 1% of their revenue. They asked me to form a company to take over support of their BBASIC customers and pre-written accounting packages, which I gladly did. About the same time in 1983, TAC was acquired by Digital Communications Associates (DCA) for a pretty massive sum. The executives retired and went on to other ventures, and the technical guys worked with DCA for some time and then I lost contact with them.

The company I formed was Walker Technology, Inc., and carried on the TAC legend through DG BBASIC, B32 and Transoft UBL all the way into 2002. We were Data General resellers all the way into the time of Aviion, then switched over to SCO OpenServer and then Windows Server and Linux. Since then, I still service BBASIC customers as an independent contractor out of my home. One would never have thought that software from the 1970's would still be in service. What a testament to the guys that devised the language originally and to those that have been its caretakers through the decades.

TomWalker1949 (talk) 02:18, 23 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Most applications for the Nova were developed in Business Basic"... is that true?[edit]

It might be true, but I do wonder if "most" is backed up by any data. I think many Fortran applications would have been run on Novas, but possibly ported from other systems rather than developed on Novas. Assembly Language and Algol programs on Novas would have been unique to Novas and so presumably a high percentage of them would have been developed on Novas, but that would probably be a high percentage of a small number. I certainly would believe most business apps on Novas would have been in BBASIC. And I wrote a h-u-g-e number of apps in BBASIC (that ran on a Nova and microNovas, and eventually an MV).

I was very impressed with Business Basic, and it was very easy to write code that worked first time; we comfortably ran 9 terminals of various brands (DG, TVI, ADM, Qume, even a Compucolor) off a Nova 3/D. We hired university students during break time, and they all picked it up and could do good things with it very quickly, and when coupled with the concept of "program skeletons" (thanks Ron!), which BBasic programs encouraged, it was easy for me to read and understand all their programs long afterwards because they all conformed to the same pattern (most programming languages before and since do not encourage program skeletons; having too much flexibility is often a bad thing IMHO). The only real inelegance was the quirkiness of the STMA/B/C subroutines (obviously produced by mucking around with the DG Multiuser BASIC "ucall" source code). I have an early BBASICD manual and some older ones, but don't know the full story of how it developed - it would be nice to see a table or something like that showing how it developed over time (e.g. when was optimisation to RPN internally added?) Maitchy (talk) 03:48, 3 July 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've looked through my file of clippings about BB and cannot find a source for the statement "Most applications...". I remember this claim being made, but my memory is hazy after so long, and quite likely the claim was in the context of business programs. I've amended the article to "Most business applications...". Thanks for your input.-gadfium 08:39, 3 July 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]