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Chapter 1 :

Welcome to GW-BASIC
Notational Conventions
Microsoft GW-BASIC is a simple, easy-to-learn, easy-to-use computer
programming language with English-like statements and mathematical notations.
With GW-BASIC you will be able to write both simple and complex programs to run
on your computer. You will also be able to modify existing software that is written in
This guide is designed to help you use the GW-BASIC Interpreter with the MSDOS operating system. Section 1.5 lists resources that will teach you how to

1.1 System Requirements

This version of GW-BASIC requires MS-DOS version 3.2 or later.

1.2 Preliminaries
Your GW-BASIC files will be on the MS-DOS diskette located at the back of the MSDOS User's Reference. Be sure to make a working copy of the diskette before you
This manual is written for the user familiar with the MS-DOS operating system. For
more information on MS-DOS, refer to the Microsoft MS-DOS 3.2 User's Guide and
User's Reference.

1.3 Notational Conventions

Throughout this manual, the following conventions are used to distinguish elements
of text:

Used for commands, options, switches, and literal portions of syntax that must appear
exactly as shown.


Used for filenames, variables, and placeholders that represent the type of text to be
entered by the user.

Used for sample command lines, program code and examples, and sample sessions.
Used for keys, key sequences, and acronyms.

Brackets surround optional command-line elements.

1.4 Organization of This Manual

The GW-BASIC User's Guide is divided into six chapters, nine appendixes, and a
Chapter 1, "Welcome to GW-BASIC," describes this manual.
Chapter 2, "Getting Started with GW-BASIC," is an elementary guideline on how to
begin programming.
Chapter 3, "Reviewing and Practicing GW-BASIC," lets you use the principles of
GW-BASIC explained in Chapter 2.
Chapter 4, "The GW-BASIC Screen Editor," discusses editing commands that can be
used when inputting or modifying a GW-BASIC program. It also explains the unique
properties of the ten re-definable function keys and of other keys and keystroke
Chapter 5, "Creating and Using Files," tells you how to create files and to use the
diskette input/output (I/O) procedures.
Chapter 6, "Constants, Variables, Expressions, and Operators," defines the elements of
GW-BASIC and describes how you will use them.
Appendix A, "Error Codes and Messages," is a summary of all the error codes and
error messages that you might encounter while using GW-BASIC.
Appendix B, "Mathematical Functions," describes how to calculate certain
mathematical functions not intrinsic to GW-BASIC.
Appendix C, "ASCII Character Codes," lists the ASCII character codes recognized by
Appendix D, "Assembly Language (Machine Code) Subroutines," shows how to
include assembly language subroutines with GW-BASIC.
Appendix E, "Converting BASIC Programs to GW-BASIC," provides pointers on
converting programs written in BASIC to GW-BASIC.
Appendix F, "Communications," describes the GW-BASIC statements required to
support RS-232 asynchronous communications with other computers and peripheral
Appendix G, "Hexadecimal Equivalents," lists decimal and binary equivalents to
hexadecimal values.
Appendix H, "Key Scan Codes," lists and illustrates the key scan code values used in
Appendix I, "Characters Recognized by GW-BASIC," describes the GW-BASIC
character set.
The Glossary defines words and phrases commonly used in GW-BASIC and data

1.5 Bibliography
This manual is a guide to the use of the GW-BASIC Interpreter: it makes no attempt
to teach the BASIC programming language. The following texts may be useful for
those who wish to learn BASIC programming:
Albrecht, Robert L., LeRoy Finkel, and Jerry Brown. BASIC. 2d ed. New York: Wiley
Interscience, 1978.
Coan, James. Basic BASIC. Rochelle Park, N.J.: Hayden Book Company, 1978.
Dwyer, Thomas A. and Margot Critchfield. BASIC and the Personal Computer.
Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1978.
Ettlin, Walter A. and Gregory Solberg. The MBASIC Handbook. Berkeley, Calif.:
Osborne/McGraw Hill, 1983.
Knecht, Ken. Microsoft BASIC. Portland, Oreg.: Dilithium Press, 1982.