History of Visual Basic

How Visual Basic became the world's most dominant programming environment, its sudden fall from grace, and why its influence is still shaping the future of software development.
Read the deepdive :point_right: Something Pretty Right: A History of Visual Basic | Retool


Wow, ok, I'm reading this over lunch!

I go back to VB 3.0 and VBScript in MS Access 1.0. That's where my first forays into computer consulting as a custom software dev started. Pull the string further and I stayed up all night studying the new BASIC manual when the Model II of the TRS-80 came out!

Confession: I still prefer vb.net over c# when doing backend dev.


Ok finished reading this (and watching the videos).

I have lived professionally through the entire period described in the article and worked with many different products over the years. I have a lot of perspective with which to compare this history to Retool today.

The biggest piece missing for web development was something like Access or VB. No one was doing it and I found that very frustrating and vented to my brother (a web dev himself) about it regularly. There were overly complex attempts like .NET and Visual Studio, or some half hearted open source PHP projects. There were JS frameworks to speed up complex development and Node front-end/back-end integrations, and even Microsoft tried with things like Access Web Applications. But they all aimed for the foothills, ignorant of the towering mountain range that was VB and its relations like Access.

A few made the attempt - I tried some early low-code (the Web 2.0 name for what VB was) platforms but again they were too complex in their attempt to limit the need for code, not to mention too expensive.

When I was introduced to Retool in early 2021 I felt like I had found home! Now, Retool at the time was just transitioning from mere promise into useful product, and I could clearly see its direction and its potential. In the last two years it has gone from a finally useful, equivalent of VB 3.0, to a more polished and feature rich VB 4.0 where it is now.

I encourage Retool to keep building the core product to get to that sweet spot that VB 6.0 was. VB 6.0 was nirvana to program in and just get s**t done!

1 Like

Always loved VB (and QuickBasic before it, and BASIC before that - I started in 1979 on TRS-80s & DEC Rainbows writing commercial software in BASIC, up to my final VB product in 2000). I'm still waiting for the web to be like that (Retool is certainly on that path), like our old 4GLs (like PowerBuilder, too).


Great article! When I first started using Retool it felt like I was back using Visual Basic! :slight_smile:

1 Like