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Icon of version 1.0

Macintosh BASIC, also called MacBASIC, is an implementation of BASIC developed at Apple Computer for the early Macintosh computers.




About box of MacBASIC beta version 0.29

In September 1981, Donn Denman joined the Macintosh team to begin work on a native BASIC interpreter for the new Mac platform. Denman had previously collaborated with Randy Wigginton to port Applesoft BASIC to the Apple III. In spring 1982, Bryan Stearns was brought in to assist Denman for about six months. As the the ship date for the Macintosh 128K approached, Denman also devoted time to writing desk accessories for it. After the Mac shipped in January 1984, Denman resumed work on what would become MacBASIC. He was assisted by Marianne Hsiung and Larry Kenyon at Apple. Scot Kamins from TTI assisted with the documentation and manuals.[1] Unlike other text-based implementations, MacBASIC provided access to Macintosh Toolbox routines, making it useful as a prototyping tool.[2]

Beta release and discontinuation[]


Icon of beta 0.335

A beta version of MacBASIC 0.335 was released in early 1984 to universities such as Dartmouth College, where it was used in a programming class at the computer science department. It was planned to go on sale for US$99. However, Apple abruptly put MacBASIC "on hold immediately" and unsuccessfully attempted to retrieve all the beta copies, which became widely pirated. Managers ordered Denman to destroy all his source code and refused explain why.[1][3][4] Computer book publishers expressed disappointment, as some had already printed books about MacBASIC, which was benchmarked to be two to three times as fast as Microsoft BASIC.[2] Confusion ensued among staff until it was revealed that Apple CEO John Sculley had been pressured by Microsoft in 1985 to sell them a perpetual license to the Macintosh user interface and MacBASIC for $1 in exchange for an extension of the license to Applesoft BASIC for Apple II series computers. Microsoft then shelved MacBASIC to eliminate potential competition. Macintosh team member Bill Atkinson was outraged and protested the decision to no avail. Denman then took a leave of absence from the company.[1][5]

Release history[]

Two beta versions are known to exist, and the 1.0 release that was delivered to Microsoft was eventually leaked:

Version Build date Notes
0.29 February 91984 Earliest known development version.[6]
0.335 March 15, 1984 Released to universities and withdrawn.[4]
1.0 June 3, 1985 Delivered to Microsoft and shelved.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 MacBasic by Andy Hertzfeld, Folklore. 1985-06.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Apple, Publishers at Odds by Tom Maremaa, InfoWorld p.23. 1985-08-19.
  3. MacBASIC by Owen W. Linzmayer, The Mac Bathroom Reader p.19-21. 1994.
  4. 4.0 4.1 MacBASIC .335 by someperson, Macintosh Garden. 2016-08-02.
  5. Did Apple Conspire to Kill Macbasic? by John C. Dvorak, InfoWorld p.58. 1985-11-11.
  6. Apple Macintosh 128k Development disks by iwakurarein, Macintosh Garden. 2020-02-02.
  7. MacBASIC 1.0 by lilliputian, Macintosh Garden. 2015-05-23.


External links[]

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