Thu Jan 10 14:09:55 1991

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re: MATRIX BASIC -- HOW BIG IS THE MARKET? linqdev! (1991-01-15)
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Newsgroups: comp.compilers
From: linqdev!
Keywords: Basic, design
Organization: Compilers Central
References: <>
Date: Thu Jan 10 14:09:55 1991

In reference to the discussion about MATRIX BASIC:

I know a little about True Basic. I was a founder and wrote a substantial
portion of the initial implementation for the IBM PC. I have not worked
there for 2.5 years, but still maintain some contact with the company.

Indeed, True Basic does handle matrices with functions like addition,
subtraction, inversion, scalar and matrix multiplication, and transpose as
well as the ability to pass matrices to subroutines and functions. As was
mentioned, this is because it is following the ANS standard BASIC (1986).

These facilities do not require temporary matrices to be produced at runtime.
All matrices that are created are named by the user. A funny (:-)) side
effect of the standard is that all "function" arguments must be passed by
value, and hence, arrays must be passed by value. This is a real joy when
you are passing dynamic string arrays.

True Basic, the company, is alive and still selling True Basic the language.
They are located in Lebanon, NH near Dartmouth College. They do not
advertise, in general, in the mass media because it is not cost effective.
They tend to sell directly to universities and schools. They are just now
(end of Jan 1991) releasing version 3.0 for the IBM PC. You can call them at
1-800-TRBASIC (I number I find hard to forget).

They have also created a version of ANS BASIC that runs on UNIX(tm) machines
for Language Processors, Inc. in Cambridge,MA. You can buy this version
directly from LPI, I believe.

As for the actual question about how big the market for a MATRIX BASIC would
be: I don't see it as very big if all you have to sell is a matrix ability.
You should bear in mind that there are other BASICs that handle matrices: HP
Basic (for 68000s) and a PC version that looks like HP Basic made by Trans
Era in Utah. None of these Basics are huge sellers, but they also have a lot
of other features that make them useful to scientists and engineers.

The size of the market is quite a strong function of price. Apparently, in
Taiwan and mainland China, True Basic is VERY heavily used, more than any
other language. I can not back up this statement with hard facts, but it
really doesn't matter. Both these countries do not have any legal
distribution mechanisms i.e. True Basic (the company) does not make a single
cent from them. Therefore, if you give away a product, your market can be
very big. Sigh.


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