Gw Basic Manual Download

First appeared1983; 36 years ago
Stable release
Influenced by
QBasic, QuickBasic, MSX BASIC
  1. Download Gw Basic For Windows 10
  2. Gw Basic Programs Free Download

Gw basic language free download - Palm Basic, Smart BASIC programming language, Mobile Basic, and many more programs. Gw basic user manual - PDF Ebooks Download - GW-BASIC User's Guide Chapter 1 Welcome to GW-BASIC Notational Conventions Microsoft GW-BASIC is a simple, easy-to-learn, easy-to-use computer programming Gw Basic Free Download - Gwbasic User s Manual Gw Basic Free Download - If you're using the Home Premium version of Microsoft's OS, download.

GW-BASIC is a dialect of the BASICprogramming language developed by Microsoft from BASICA, originally for Compaq. It is otherwise identical to Microsoft/IBM BASICA, but is a fully self-contained executable and does not need the ROM BASIC. It was bundled with MS-DOSoperating systems on IBM PC compatibles by Microsoft. Microsoft also sold a BASIC compiler, BASCOM, compatible with GW-BASIC, for programs needing more speed. The language is suitable for simple games, business programs and the like. Since it was included with most versions of MS-DOS, it was also a low-cost way for many aspiring programmers to learn the fundamentals of computer programming.[1][2] With the release of MS-DOS 5.0, GW-BASIC's place was eventually taken by QBasic, the interpreter part of the separately available QuickBASIC compiler.[3]


IBM BASICA and GW-BASIC were largely ports of MBASIC version 5.x, but with added features specifically for the IBM PC hardware. Common features of BASIC-80 5.x and BASICA/GW-BASIC include:

  • WHILE..WEND loops
  • Variable names of up to 40 characters
  • OPTION BASE statement to set the starting index of array variables as either 0 or 1
  • Dynamic string space allocation
  • LINE INPUT statement for reading in data from the keyboard
  • CALL statement for executing machine language routines
  • CHAIN and MERGE commands
  • Ability to save programs in either tokenized binary format or ASCII text

The ability to 'crunch' program lines by omitting spaces, a common feature of earlier Microsoft BASIC implementations, was removed from BASIC-80 5.x and BASICA/GWBASIC.

BASIC-80 programs not using PEEK/POKE statements would run under GW-BASIC. BASICA added many features for the IBM PC such as sound, graphics, and memory commands. A few other features not present in BASIC-80 included the ability to execute the RND function with no parameters and the ability to also save programs in a 'protected' format, preventing them from being LISTed. BASICA also allowed double-precision numbers to be used with mathematical and trigonometric functions such as COS, SIN, and ATN, which wasn't allowed in 8-bit versions of BASIC. This feature was normally not enabled and required the optional parameter /D at startup, i.e., GWBASIC /D. BASIC's memory footprint was slightly increased if it was used.

Microsoft did not offer a generic version of MS-DOS until v3.20 in 1986; before then, all variants of the operating system were OEM versions. Depending on the OEM, BASIC was distributed as either BASICA.EXE or GWBASIC.EXE. The former should not be confused with IBM BASICA, which always came as a .COM file. Some variants of BASIC had extra features to support a particular machine. For example, the AT&T and Tandy versions of DOS included a special GW-BASIC that supported their enhanced sound and graphics capabilities.

The initial version of GW-BASIC was the one included with Compaq DOS 1.13, released with the Compaq Portable in 1983, and was analogous to IBM BASICA 1.10. It used the CP/M-derived file control blocks for disk access and did not support subdirectories. Later versions added this feature and improved graphics and other capabilities.

GW-BASIC 3.20 (1986) added EGA graphics support (no version of BASICA or GW-BASIC had VGA support) and was, in effect, the last new version released before it was superseded by QBasic.

Buyers of Hercules Graphics Cards received a special version of GW-BASIC on the card's utility disk that was called HBASIC and which added support for its 720×348 monochrome graphics. Other versions of BASICA/GW-BASIC did not support Hercules graphics and could only display graphics on that card through the use of third-party CGA emulation, such as SIMCGA.

GW-BASIC has a command line-based integrated development environment (IDE) based on Dartmouth BASIC. Using the cursor movement keys, any line displayed on screen can be edited. It also includes function key shortcuts at the bottom of the screen. Like other early microcomputer versions of BASIC, GW-BASIC lacked many of the structures needed for structured programming such as local variables, and GW-BASIC programs executed relatively slowly, because it was an interpreted language. All program lines must be numbered; all non-numbered lines are considered to be commands in direct mode to be executed immediately. Program source files are normally saved in binary compressed format with tokens replacing keywords, with an option to save in ASCII text form.[4]

The GW-BASIC command-line environment has commands to RUN, LOAD, SAVE, LIST the current program, or quit to the operating SYSTEM; these commands can also be used as program statements. There is little support for structured programming in GW-BASIC. All IF/THEN/ELSEconditional statements must be written on one line, although WHILE/WEND statements may group multiple lines. Functions can only be defined using the single line DEF FNf(x)=<mathematical function of x> statement (e.g., DEF FNLOG(base,number)=LOG(number)/LOG(base)). The data type of variables can be specified with a character at the end of the variable name: A$ is a string of characters, A% is an integer, etc. Groups of variables can also be set to default types based on the initial letter of their name by use of the DEFINT, DEFSTR, etc., statements. The default type for undeclared variables not identified by such typing statements, is single-precision floating point (32-bit MBF).[5]

GW-BASIC allowed use of joystick and light pen input devices. GW-BASIC can read from and write to files and COM ports; it can also do event trapping for ports. Since the cassette port interface of the original IBM PC was never implemented on compatibles, cassette operations are not supported. GW-BASIC can play simple music using the PLAY statement, needing a string of notes represented in a music macro language, e.g., PLAY 'edcdeeL2edfedL4c'. More low-level control is possible with the SOUND statement, which takes the arguments of a frequency in hertz and a length in clock ticks for the standard internal PC speaker in IBM machines. Consequently, sound is limited to single channel beeps and whistles as befits a 'business' machine. Home-based PCs like the Tandy 1000 allowed up to three channels of sound for the SOUND and PLAY commands.[5]


There are several theories on what the initials 'GW' stand for. Greg Whitten, an early Microsoft employee who developed the standards in the company's BASIC compiler line, says Bill Gates picked the name GW-BASIC. Whitten refers to it as Gee-Whiz BASIC and is unsure if Gates named the program after him.[6] The Microsoft User Manual from Microsoft Press also refers to it by this name.[citation needed] It may have also been nicknamedGee-Whiz because of its numerous graphics commands.[6] Other common theories as to the initials' origins include 'Graphics and Windows', 'Gates, William' (Microsoft's president at the time), or 'Gates-Whitten' (the two main designers of the program).[7][8]

See also[edit]

  • Microsoft Binary Format (MBF)


  1. ^'KindlyRat'. 'GW-BASIC'. Archived from the original on 2005-07-26. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  2. ^'Leon'. 'GWBASIC Games & Other Programs'. Archived from the original on 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  3. ^'Microsoft BASIC version information'. Retrieved 2008-06-12.
  4. ^'GW-BASIC Documentation and Utilities'. Archived from the original on 2007-12-17.
  5. ^ ab'GW-BASIC User's Guide'. 1987. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
  6. ^ abGregory Whitten (2005-04-13). 'GW-BASIC'. Archived from the original on 2008-09-20. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  7. ^'Linux Dictionary:G'. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
  8. ^'GW-BASIC'. 2005-04-13. Archived from the original on 2008-06-29. Retrieved 2008-06-28.

External links[edit]

  • Classic Basic Games Page, a resource for BASIC games and other programs
  • Back to BASICs, another BASIC resource site
  • GW-BASIC interpreter program and files download site at the Wayback Machine (archived October 27, 2009)
  • Gary Beene's Information Center regarding BASIC, with timeline dates for DOS, Windows and BASIC dialects
  • GW-BASIC - Gee Whiz! Neil C. Obremski's site devoted to GW-BASIC.
  • PC-BASIC - a GW-BASIC emulator for modern operating systems.
Retrieved from ''

Download GW-BASIC Software

Home Download Games Tutorials KindlyRat Mouse Support Links Is BASIC best?

GW-BASIC 3.23, The Last Official Release

Microsoft created GW-BASIC version 3.23 in 1987 and that was the last official, commercial one. It is unsurprisingly unsupported, but still under copyright so it can't be sold or distributed without permission.

  • GW-BASIC executable for DOS
  • GW-BASIC manual; official documentation and full command reference
  • gw-man.pdf: GW-BASIC User's Guide and Reference for Kindle and other e-readers

Thomas Shaffner released Microsoft GW-BASIC User's Guide and User's Reference to the web and you can easily find copies of it.

GW-BASIC on Windows 7+

aka 'Where do I download GW-BASIC for Windows 7, 8, 10 .. ?'

GW-BASIC was last released in 1988 as you can see from any screenshot of its start screen. It's a 16-bit DOS executable that uses processor instructions no longer supported in modern, 64-bit CPU's / operating systems. Simply put: GW-BASIC.EXE cannot run directly on Windows!

Don't lose hope, because this is where emulators come in.

DOSBox is the premier DOS emulator with the best support and works on multiple platforms. You'll just need a passing knowledge of DOS and how a filesystem works, but otherwise running in an emulator is straight forward, like running a virtual PC from ye olden times inside your fancy new toy.

Carlos Vazquez adds: The closest thing there is to a 64 bit gw basic is qb64 (a 64 bit clone of quick basic) i havent tested if qb64 runs gwbasic programs (quickbasic could run them and even save them in binary form) (QB64)

Compiling GW-BASIC Programs

aka 'How to convert gw-basic programs to exe extension?'

What you're talking about is compiling the BAS file to an executable.

There are three immediate and essentially free options:

  1. BASCOM is a program intended to compile BAS to EXE for BASICA, IBM's version of BASIC for DOS and the precursor to GW-BASIC. It will handle both the binary and ASCII format BAS files and supports pretty much everything except EGA (certain SCREEN modes).
  2. QuickBASIC 4.5 is the direct successor to GW-BASIC and can handle probably 95% of all GW-BASIC programs with the exception of those that rely on more esoteric features.
  3. FreeBASIC has little development going on but it theoretically handles almost all QB programs and so will handle GW-BASIC programs as well.

Backstory: I keep seeing this question, asked on Yahoo! Answers, come up in search results. It's two years too late and the question is set to resolved, but I had to add some more information.

GW-BASIC 3.23, The Last Official Release

Microsoft created GW-BASIC version 3.23 in 1987 and that was the last official, commercial one. It is unsurprisingly unsupported, but still under copyright so it can't be sold or distributed without permission.

  • GW-BASIC executable for DOS
  • GW-BASIC manual (official documentation)
  • gw-man.pdf: GW-BASIC User's Guide and Reference for Kindle and other e-readers


Microsoft OLDDOS.EXE contains QBasic (which can run most GW-BASIC programs saved as ASCII) and several other 'old DOS' utilities.

This was mirrored from



GW-BASIC for modern incarnations of Windows and Linux? Yes! Here is an email from the project's creator Rob.

Hi, I thought you might enjoy my newly released project PC-BASIC 3.23. Mp3 rocket free music download for android.

It's essentially an open source clone of the GW-BASIC 3.23 interpreter; since it's python-based, it runs on most OSes including Windows and Linux.

It is largely feature complete (including sound, graphics, file I/O, and loading and saving 'protected' programs) though still under active development. Have fun!

SilverLight BASIC Interpreter

You can play with the work-in-progress version at

For the most part, all keywords that are not machine language specific should be working to one degree or another. All graphics modes circa GW-BASIC should be working as well. You can drag/drop .BAS files directly to the editing surface to ease getting something up and working right away. All files are stored in your browser sand-box. Contact the author, Cory Smith, directly by visiting

BASIC-80 Interpreter for Windows

  • This comes from the pleasant Steve Pagliarulo who has graciously given me permission to attach a copy of this wonderful software he has developed. If you have any comments or questions, you can email him at s_pagliarulo AT

I too share your fondness of GW-BASIC and its father BASIC-80. I got my start on a TRS-80 with Microsoft's LEVEL II BASIC. In any case, I'd like to share with you my BASIC-80 compatible interpreter that I finished late last year. It's very close to GW-BASIC but without the graphics commands. It can also load/run many GW-BASIC programs.

I've been fooling with the interpreter for about 10 years. I finally finished it because when I moved to 64-bit Windows, the 16-bit GW-BASIC .exe is no longer spported. The interpreter is about 20 thousand lines of C++ code. It is portable for the most part. Some of the OS specific APIs have to be changed for other platforms. For right now, I have it working as a 32-bit .exe on Windows. I'm thinking of porting it next to Raspberry pi.

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I've attached a link to a zip file with BASIC.EXE interpreter and a few sample programs including a chess program writthn for GW-BASIC. Unlike GW-BASIC, this interpreter does not have a full-screen editor. It uses the original editor from BASIC-80. To edit a line you have to use the EDIT command.

Download Gw Basic For Windows 10


There are, I'm finding, significant differences between GW-BASIC and FreeBASIC. For the first, you actually have to specify -lang deprecated in order to even support line numbers. So the compatibility goal of FreeBASIC being equivalent to QBasic is immediately suspect. What I'm looking for is a compiler to create modern operating system executables (Windows XP+, Ubuntu, OS X, etc.) with full support for GW-BASIC's language, or even QB.

KEY OFF not supported, for obvious reasons. QB ignores this command but FBC (FreeBASIC compiler) blows up with an error. If I can't tell it to ignore certain statements then right away I have to fork my code for a FBC version.

KEY (#) ON/OFF and ON KEY (#) GOSUB not supported. This is really annoying, but I already made changes to support INKEY$ polling in QB so that will supposedly work in FreeBASIC.

DEF FNname() not supported. You can create full-blown functions but not simple one-liners in the GW style. For me this is another indication I'll have to fork. I don't think this would be difficult for them to implement, perhaps I'll post it on their forum.

EXTERR() not supported. I'm not using this, but how hard would it be to support?

GOSUB # .. RETURN doesn't work unless you specify '-lang qb'. The line number support can be enabled with '-lang deprecated' and yet if you try to call RETURN it reports 'Illegal outside blah blah blah or SUB block'.

SCREEN() isn't supported. For this I don't mean the routine to switch screen modes but rather the function that returns the value at a location in the text screen buffer. It seems to think I'm declaring a variable by this name.

Gw Basic Programs Free Download

Perhaps the FreeBASIC team would be interested in fixing these, though probably not. Development appears to have slowed down and why would support extend so far back? Still, I wish there was something I could use without having to roll my own (which I'm considering).