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 😛 ): 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 😛 friend, VB, a Happy 20th Birthday and many more! 😀
Anthony D. Green
Visual Basic (code-name “Roslyn”) Compiler