Happy 20th Birthday Visual Basic!

Happy 20th Birthday Visual Basic!

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Twenty years ago, May 20th, 1991 at Windows World, in Atlanta, Microsoft founder Bill Gates demoed Visual Basic 1.0. Twenty years later, the 10th version of this latest in an unbroken line of Microsoft BASIC languages stretching back to Microsoft’s founding is still going strong. When you look back over the history of a tool that’s been around that long you start to see some familiar experiences from Wetware products (commonly called children :P ): The cute and cuddly days of its youth, in the 16-bit era; the awkward teen years and the transition to .NET; sibling rivalry with the new baby (C#); and finally getting those braces … er, underscores off :). And now, finally out of those turbulent teen years, a matured language looks to the future. Visual Basic has always had a personality for humanizing programming and with Async methods in vNext it continues that tradition.

You might ask after two-decades how VB can keep re-inventing itself to face modern and future challenges. The answer is quite literally that – re-inventing itself.  OK, more accurately re-writing itself. The VB compiler is being re-written from the ground up in Visual Basic and its syntactic and semantic analysis services exposed through a managed API that exposes parse trees, expression binding, assembly production (and more) to enable a world of new scenarios including REPL, VB as a scripting language, and more. It’s all very exciting! As a VB user for … half my lifetime, now, it’s great to look back and be proud of where VB has been, happy with where it is, and especially excited about where it’s going!

I have many fond memories of Visual Basic and likewise great aspirations for its future and I know millions of customers out there have the same. Please, share your stories (and hopes), and join me in wishing our old :P friend, VB, a Happy 20th Birthday and many more! :D

Anthony D. Green
Program Manager
Visual Basic (code-name "Roslyn") Compiler

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  • Wow, that's a long time!  There's a lot to be proud of in that record, but off the top of my head, there are two things that I really enjoyed working on while on the VB team from 1999-2006 -- snippets and error correction.  Sam Spencer, Amanda Silver, Jay Schmelzer (who stepped into Sam's shoes), and I had a number of "what if" planning meetings around these that were just a lot of fun -- lots of wild ideas about how this might work, what the UI would look like, and so on.  Rarely have I been so pleased about how a feature turned out -- Li Zhang, Ernest Tong, Ting Liang, and Cameron McColl did a great job of turning the vision into reality code-wise, with the fabulous VB QA team beating the stuffing out of the code over and over again to make sure it would really work, and the ever-diligent VS Core team turning around a great base UI to hook it all in -- quite the team effort!

    Coming in after those two, in the "yeah, we got it done!" class, would have to be the return of Edit and Continue (which took a long time to develop to make sure that we got it right for the customer) -- so many people on so many teams contributed to that over the course of about two years, far more than I can list here, and it was nice to see it "just work" in VB 2005 when we were done.  

    For me personally, the most elbow grease went into getting the PrettyLister the way we wanted it before shipping the first VB.NET (VB 2002) -- Sam, Osama Salem, and I nearly sprained our brains on that one, as there were so many ways to format code that we had to accomodate -- fix one, break another, fix that, break yet another, etc...

    But best of all, I got the opportunity to work with a number of wonderful, smart, talented people, many of whom are still on the Languages team working hard on the next version of VB.  What a privilege!  Happy birthday, VB!

    --Matt Gertz--* (VB Deployment Member/Lead 1999-2000, VB Performance Lead 2001, VB Editor Lead 2002-2003, VB Compiler Lead 2004-2005, VB Dev Manager 2006-2007)

  • I'm 25 - not much older than Visual Basic.

    In grade school I started creating simple applications in QBasic on a laptop with a black and white monitor. After a couple years, an enthusiastic uncle gave my a QuickBasic compiler - and suddenly I was distributing my simple applications to friends.

    As I entered my teen years I wanted to branch out, to do "cool" things like write data to the printer port and maybe even access the scanner. My little world of QuickBasic was starting to feel increasingly restrictive. That's when my dad bought me Visual Basic 6.0 and by junior high I was writing simple database applications and printing basic financial reports.

    As my senior year began and I started dreaming about college, Visual Basic went through its own transition - the introduction of .NET. Within a couple years I was using Visual Studio 2005 and working part-time for a web development company creating websites using ASP.NET Web Forms. As my experience with software development and various (Microsoft and non-Microsoft) platforms expanded, so too did VB.NET. I welcomed the introduction of generics and crowed over LINQ.

    Now, I am now using Visual Studio 2010 and loving WPF (with MVVM) and async. I've been stunned at how, unlike so many other languages (ahem.. Java), VB has managed to keep up with current trends in technology - and even set the pace in many spheres. It's matured with me and with the industry and it's been a joy to grow up together.

    Happy Birthday VB!


  • Happy Birthday VB!

  • Congrats VB and the Microsoft Team for this.


  • Visual Basic's chickens... are coming home...to ROOST.

  • VB Rules !!

  • Happy birthday VB! May you long live :)

  • Happy birthday, VB! And wishing you many, many long years, along with your little sister C#.

  • Happy birthday VB! Congrats Visual Basic Team!


  • With no doubt VB is a very young language with a great experience.

    Happy's twenty and hoping to see twenty more!

    By the way I just also fulfil 20 years... but in my case, on each leg :-)

    Hurrah for VB

  • Visual Basic was my first love among programming languages and I'd never forget it! It allowed me to create my most succesful software: CyberInstaller Suite (www.silvercybertech.com/.../index.html).

    Thank you VB, thank you Microsoft! Long life to VB!!!

  • Long live VB!!!

  • Happy Birthday, VB!  It's been a nice long run.

  • I started out my programming life with BASIC on an ATARI 400 when I was eight years old. I have always loved the way Visual Basic brought programming to the masses and made people heros for solving business problems. Happy Birthday Visual Basic! To another 20 years!


  • TRS-80 - wrote my first BASIC goto loop, nearly died of happiness.

    Atari 800XL - AtariBASIC, my first computer, used it until it broke, got another one. (Peek(53279))

    Atari 130XE - TurboBASIC, long live the ramdisk!

    QBASIC (thanks Screen 12)

    VB 1.0 - Bought it the day it came out.

    VB 2.0 - Speedier!

    VB 3.0 - DAO DAO DAO! And Thanks Dan Appleman!!!

    VB 4.0 - In a Class all its own. Let the VBX vs OCX wars begin. Somehow got on the VB4 beta (Asked for the "CallByName" function - VB team listened!)

    VB 5.0 - "Yes boss, it runs on Windows NT!" Went to Redmond to help write exam questions. Ah the seafood!

    VB 6.0 - Bread and butter!

    VB.NET 2003 - Sucketh a mighty suck.

    VB8 - Generic goodness.

    VB9 - What's a lambda expression? Ah yeah ok that's freaking awesome.

    VB10 - Multi-statement lambdas make me smile.

    VB11 - VB dogfooding to a new level. And I can barely sleep waiting for the Async CTP.

    I will always be a VB developer and I'm proud of it! Thank you oh geniuses that continue to make this language better and better.

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