n. A programming language, originally designed for Dartmouth's experimental timesharing system in the early 1960s, which has since become the leading cause of brain-damage in proto-hackers. This is another case (like Pascal) of the bad things that happen when a language deliberately designed as an educational toy gets taken too seriously. A novice can write short BASIC programs (on the order of 10--20 lines) very easily; writing anything longer is (a) very painful, and (b) encourages bad habits that will bite him/her later if he/she tries to hack in a real language. This wouldn't be so bad if historical accidents hadn't made BASIC so common on low-end micros. As it is, it ruins thousands of potential wizards a year.