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A free, cross-platform emulator for the GW-BASIC family of interpreters.

PC-BASIC is a free, cross-platform interpreter for GW-BASIC, Advanced BASIC (BASICA), PCjr Cartridge Basic and Tandy 1000 GWBASIC. It interprets these BASIC dialects with a high degree of accuracy, aiming for bug-for-bug compatibility. PC-BASIC emulates the most common video and audio hardware on which these BASICs used to run. PC-BASIC runs plain-text, tokenised and protected .BAS files. It implements floating-point arithmetic in the Microsoft Binary Format (MBF) and can therefore read and write binary data files created by GW-BASIC.

PC-BASIC is free and open source software released under the GPL version 3.

See also the PC-BASIC home page.

Quick Start Guide

This quick start guide covers installation and elementary use of PC-BASIC. For more information, please refer to the PC-BASIC documentation.

If you find bugs, please open an issue on GitHub. It would be most helpful if you could include a short bit of BASIC code that triggers the bug.


PC-BASIC desktop installers for Windows, Mac, and Linux can be downloaded from GitHub.

Python users can obtain the PC-BASIC package from PyPI through pip3 install pcbasic.

BASIC survival kit

PC-BASIC has a 1980s-style interface operated by executing typed commands. There is no menu, nor are there any of the visual clues that we've come to expect of modern software.

A few essential commands to help you get around:

Command Effect
FILES show current working directory and its contents
LOAD "PROGRAM" loads the program file named PROGRAM.BAS into memory
LIST displays the BASIC code of the current program
RUN starts the current program
SAVE "PROGRAM",A saves the current program to a text file named PROGRAM.BAS
NEW immediately deletes the current program from memory
SYSTEM exits PC-BASIC immediately, discarding any unsaved program

Use one of the key combinations Ctrl+Break, Ctrl+Scroll Lock, Ctrl+C or F12+B to interrupt a running program.

Program location

If started through the start-menu shortcut, PC-BASIC looks for programs in the shortcut's start-in folder.

  • On Windows, this is your Documents folder by default.
  • On Mac and Linux this is your home directory ~/ by default.

If started from the command prompt, PC-BASIC looks for programs in the current working directory.

See the documentation on accessing your drives for more information.

External resources

See the collection of GW-BASIC programs and tutorials.