The BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) programming language is now more than 50 years old. If you’ve used a home computer from the ’70s or ’80s, you’ve almost certainly been exposed to it, as most computers of the era shipped with a BASIC interpreter already installed. Its popularity began to wane in the ’90s, but that doesn’t mean you can’t build your own BASIC computer to experience the joys of the language today.
Rob Cai has shared a fantastic tutorial on how to build an Arduino-based BASIC computer, and it will only cost you a few dollars. All you’ll need is a pair of Arduinos, a PS2 port for the keyboard, and a VGA port for video output to a monitor. You’ll need Arduinos that use the ATmega328 microcontroller, but luckily that’s found in both the ubiquitous Uno, as well as the tiny and inexpensive Nano.
Two Arduinos are required, because one acts as the computer itself running TinyBASIC Plus, while the other handles the intensive task of generating VGA video output. That video output is color, which is a nice upgrade from the more common black and white implementations. All you have to do is connect a monitor and keyboard, and you can boot right into the BASIC interpreter and start programming!