At this moment, the best established machine base for programs is the CP/M marketplace. There are about 500,000 machines installed which can run CP/M programs in one form or another, and the importance of this marketplace is underlined by the fact that most serious applications for the Apple now require the ``softcard'' with on-board Z-80 and CP/M.
However, the industry is changing rapidly and at this instant it appears that Unix or one of its look-alikes may become the ``software bus'' on 16 bit processors. We can't afford to bet on one system to the exclusion of all others. Fortunately, most of the potential products we're able to undertake don't require us to make a bet. We will be doing all of our programming in high level languages, and we must choose languages available on all of our potential target machines. At this date, C and Pascal meet this requirement.
We should seriously evaluate the option of going with CBASIC as our standard language and developing QBASIC implementations on the newer machines. The advantage of CBASIC (CB80 compiler) is that our work is file-compatible with a very large set of existing applications on CP/M, and with the acquisition of CBASIC by Digital Research (CP/M's developer), the connection is likely to strengthen.
On the other hand, the Microsoft-Unix/Xenix-IBM connection is a potent one, not to be ignored. I don't think we should be too bogged down by all of this, though. Whatever we program something in is going to generate object code that we distribute, and we're only going to program things which can be sold to a large number of customers without modification. If we do things reasonably, we'll be able to convert them to anything else that comes along and looks attractive. After all, conversions aren't fun, but if by converting something from CBASIC to Microsoft BASIC I can sell another 100,000 copies, I'll convert it. We shouldn't spend our time trying to figure out how many SIGPLAN Notices can dance on the head of a bit when we could be defining products, implementing them, selling them, and getting rich.
Editor: John Walker