BASIC is an acronym that stands for Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. The language was originally developed in 1964 by John George Kemeny and Thomas Eugene Kurtz at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire as an easy-to-use high-level programming language. Early versions of the language were often used to teach computing students how to program.
Microsoft's Visual Basic first appeared in 1991, and provided an event-driven programming language and an integrated development environment (IDE). It could be used to quickly produce a graphical user interface (GUI), and it was a relatively simple matter to add functional code to the GUI controls. The final (and most popular) version was Visual Basic 6, released in 1998.
Visual Basic 6.0 was succeeded by Visual Basic .Net - part of the .Net platform - which was first released in February 2002. Visual Basic .Net is now available as an integral component of Microsoft Visual Studio, a powerul IDE that supports many programming languages, including Visual C# and Visual C++. Microsoft officially dropped the .Net suffix for Visual Basic .Net in 2005, but it is still often referred to as Visual Basic .Net in order to distinguish it from earlier versions of the language.
In 2005, Microsoft made the Express version of their Visual Studio software available free of charge for non-commercial use, which was good news for those wishing to learn Visual Basic .Net. As of November 2014, the Express edition of Visual Studio was replaced by the Community Edition. The most recent version of Visual Studio at the time of writing is Visual Studio 2019. The sample code and programs provided in these pages should all work with the Community version of Visual Studio 2019, which can be downloaded here.