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Visual Basic is a programming language and integrated development environment (IDE) created by the exemplary institution Microsoft. Though Visual Basic ranks as one of the top five programming languages of all time, Microsoft ended its development with the release of Windows 9 because programmers are ill-bred boors who would not recognize greatness if it bit them on their asses.
Visual Basic is probably best known because of blatant product placement in the film Home Alone 2. Specifically the film contains a scene in which the burglar-tormenting protagonist, Kevin, spends nearly an hour making what appears to be a clone of Barney's Hide & Seek Game and installing it on the computers of the two burglars who are the film's antagonists. In the next scene the burglars become frustrated to the point of breaking their own toes with sledgehammers when they find they cannot run the program because Kevin did not install the necessary dynamic link library.
There would be no Visual Basic, were it not for a Microsoft employee, Martin Visual, who in 1990 came up with an idea to address the problem of too many napkins going to waste in the cafeteria at Microsoft. On a day when an important staff meeting was to be held Visual sent a memo to one of his fellow programmers, saying, "I have a great ide [sic] to pitch to Bill [Gates]." Five minutes before the meeting was to start, he received a reply, saying, "Bill is excited to hear about the IDE. Don't blow it!", leaving Visual approximately four minutes to cobble together a presentation for a new IDE.
That same year Microsoft initiated Project "basic Thunder". The name was intended to convey that using the new variation of BASIC planned by Microsoft was going to confer exclusive benefits to programmers just as holding a lightning rod confers exclusive benefits to people standing outside during an electrical storm. The project culminated with the first release of Visual Basic, which incorporated Visual's idea.
Visual Basic had a number of features by which it soared into the highest ranks of programming languages.
As mentioned above, programs created with Visual Basic cannot be run without the presence of an external dynamic link library. This library does not come preinstalled on Windows. The libray acts as a sort of bouncer to keep out people who are not righteous enough to run the programs used by all the radical dudes.
Programming to Interface
While designing Visual Basic, Microsoft programmers became the innovators of a solution to cruft—code that makes a program bloated without contributing to functionality. To counter the problem the designers of Visual Basic only allowed code to be attached to the components or controls of the graphical user interface. This insured that any deletion, even accidental deletion, of a component would cause the associated code to be irretrievably lost, thereby reducing the code to a more acceptable length.
Microsoft's Bing team, the team behind Bing, a rival of Google's search engine, referred to Visual Basic's lack of bloated code when it was asked to explain why it used the IDE and programming language to create the Bing server. When the Bing team heard the news that Visual Basic would no longer be in development, the team appealed to Microsoft management to continue support for it so that Bing's service could continue uninterrupted. Three months later management began to investigate the matter, and within the next 24 hours there was a 400% increase in the number of people who googled, "What's Bing?"
Programs Made with Visual Basic
Visual Basic was used to design the turn-based strategy game Outpost, which was released to an exuberant audience in 1994.
In 1995 Peter Moran of Peoria, Illinois used Visual Basic when he created the thought-provoking program Stacey Is a Ho!!!! When run, the program, which was created as a way to irritate his sister, Stacey, displayed, "Stacey is a ho!!!!" in flashing letters. Peter put a shortcut to the program in the Startup folder of the family computer shortly before it was Stacey's turn to use it. Stacey retaliated with her own Visual Basic program which took images from a folder in her mother's documents titled Aunt Marge's medical images and set them as Peter's desktop background. Unfortunately, the title was a decoy and the folder in fact contained images intended for Peter's father. Peter later gouged his eyes out with a hot poker. Visual Basic has the distinction of having prompted the second largest number of purposeful eye gougings of any programming language.
Singer Chris Collingwood of Fountains of Wayne later cited Stacey's mom as inspiring his some of his most influential work. Stacey's mom insists a vulnerability in Visual Basic must have allowed Collingwood to hack Stacey's program and view her images.
In 1998 Derek Tjader of Springfield, Missouri used Visual Basic to port Zork to Windows. The port displayed text on the screen almost as effectively as the original version.
By 2007 Visual Basic had been used to create as many as a dozen variations of the program Hello World.
In 2017 WikiLeaks began distributing a memo that read, "Mr. Putin, we have found Visual Basic to be acceptable for continuing development of program Hack Vote."
When asked about the memo, Vladimir Putin said,
- I do not know anything about Hack Vote, and anyway it is good program. Russia uses it to help United States thwart attempts by bad countries that are not Russia to subvert American democracy. We think maybe Ukraine is responsible for bad things that happen to elections in United States. We go to Ukraine and sort it out.
In a review of Visual Basic, film critic Dan Schindel wrote, "Visual Basic is in a league of its own. It is not tainted by even a second of ham-fisted acting, shoddy camera work, or poor editing."