BASIC vs Python

Mike Meyer mwm at
Sun Dec 19 20:50:47 CET 2004

Scott Robinson <dscottr at> writes:

> On Fri, 17 Dec 2004 20:41:11 -0600, Mike Meyer <mwm at> wrote:
>>Scott Robinson <dscottr at> writes:
>>> Forth seems better than basic, but is *weird* (I tried it for a
>>> while).  I'm not sure going from Forth to C (or Python) would be much
>>> easier than Basic to C or Python.  The biggest disappointment for
>>> Forth was that no significant Forth chips were made (and none until it
>>> was too late).  A machine designed to be run on Forth would have been
>>> unbelievably powerful from the late 70s to the mid 90s (it would be
>>> more painful now than the x86 legacy, but still).
>>I think you overestimate how long the Forth chip would have been a
>>serious competitor to x`the x86 line. LISP chips - which should have
>>all the same advantages - didn't last that long.
> I didn't say it would be any more effective commercially, only that it
> would be unbelievably powerful:).

The reason the LISP chip based systems died is because general purpose
CPUs caught up with the speed of the LISP chips. So your Forth chip
would be unbelievably powerful initially, but not for as long as you
thought it would be.

I still remember the first Symbolics system. At a time when IBM was
still peddling 8088 based machines, Symbolics was using 68000s as IO

> I suppose the painfulness of the legacy would be ditching the system
> wholesale for something else.  Consider what the amiga faithful went
> through

The Amiga's a could choice. It had "unbelievably powerful" graphics
when it first came out. But the general-purpose boards SVGA boards
eventually blew it away. Customized chips can't match the development
pace of high-volume hardware.

I was one of the Amiga faithful. Eventually, the (lack of) speed of
Python and similar tools drove me to switch to Unix (FreeBSD, to be
exact). I've got a CDROM somewhere that has all my Amiga data on it,
along with a copy of UAE. The box that replaced the Amiga ran the
Amiga Emulator at about 50% of the Amiga it replaced. And ran python
code *much* faster than the A3000.

Mike Meyer <mwm at>
Independent WWW/Perforce/FreeBSD/Unix consultant, email for more information.

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