PowerBasic - will it recover or is the Air out?

Started by Theo Gottwald, December 06, 2012, 09:40:33 PM

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Chris Holbrook

QuoteMuch of what you've seen from them is my work. Oh, even a little Crescent Software. I have been a lot of the BASIC industry
Well, maybe a prerequisite for the job is a large ego. No disrespect, Bob!

I'm grateful to PowerBASIC for both introducing me to Windows programming in 2005 and providing some first-class tutors, including several of the contributors to this thread. Thanks!

But I'm getting ready to feel sorry for the people who bought a compiler last week.

Let's look on the bright side - on Monday, PowerBASIC may rise Phoenix-like with a different badge.


Rick McNeely

I hope that it IS just technical issues.  But, I am pessimistic by nature.  If they can't come back, I hope that they will release the source.  Don't see that happening either.  In any case, I never saw PB outlasting Win32.  Might be as good a time as any to move on.

2005?  Wow!  You've certainly learned fast, Chris. 

If it doesn't come back.  I'll miss the camaraderie of the forums, more than anything.  Even the beatings I took from MCM were usually worth it, in the end.  I was proud to have started the 8th longest thread on the board!  Wife says I'm good at starting fights and then walking away!


Laurence Jackson

I know nothing about PowerBASIC, Inc. except what I've seen of the web in 7 years as a user. But it's fairly easy to do some simple math(s).

Last time I looked, the PB forums had 4,900 members - let's say 5,000. If you assume that only 1 in 6 of active PB users actually register on the forums (based on the normal lurkers to members ratio), that's about 30,000 active users (maximum).

If you assume each user contributes an average of $30 to $35 per year, which doesn't seem too far-fetched based on the observed comments of purchasing patterns of registered users (and about my own average), that's a (somewhat lumpy) average income of $1,000,000 per year. I think that's a generous estimate - and it might be half that some years which have no updates.

That seems to be enough to support a small staff, but I would estimate no more than 6 or 7. If any of them were programmers capable of stepping into Bob Zale's shoes, I feel that we would have heard of them before this - instead, all we have heard is vague references to the R&D department.

Even before the sad loss of Bob Zale, it was fairly clear to anyone who took a realistic view that PowerBASIC has a very limited future life. The average age of users is over 50, and PB seems to be picking up very few new and, crucially, young users.

All that being said, I will continue to use PB/Win, whether or not there is ever a new version, and continue to regard PB as the best kept secret in computing.


Christopher Boss

I think it is a little premature to start talking about PowerBasic's demise.

Jose mentioned they were having problems with their web site for some time, so likely they just had to shut it all down until they could solve the problem. I don't think PowerBasic is just going to disappear.

Yes, they are a small company, but they are still a company with decent customer base.

James Klutho

It always seemed to me that there were about 5000 active users of PB judging from the hits on the version update topics.  I don't know of any other way to find the update links which are free.  The big payday is the $100 per copy upgrade every 3 years which would equate to $500,000. They were about 1 year away from this cash infusion. If these employees are full time then I see a serious cash drain for Vivian, especially if they wanted a raise from their Bob's helper status.  The premature domain name hiccup looks odd to me, as there was no reason for it. Could be a frustrated Vivian pulled the plug to let Bob's work keep its dignity.  Maybe she does not need the money and feels she has no way to monetize PB anyway.  I wonder if Bob and Vivian had discussions of what to do with PB if a situation like this occurred.  The web lists Vivian's age as 72.  Not an age for most people to tackle a situation like this and keep things business as usual. Especially if you are not a geek.

Rick McNeely

Chris B., As I said, I'm a pessimist!  But I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

James Klutho,  While I have the chance, Thanks for one of the most reasonably priced and valuable tools I've ever bought.  Also, hate to say it, but your logic makes way too much sense.  All the next year can do for her is further lower her retirement pool.  If they have to replace Bob that will probably put off any updates and certainly any major releases.  It would probably be at least two years before she got a _chance_ to recover the losses she takes in the interim.

James Klutho

Glad you found MLG useful. You made my day. Jim

Paul Squires

I have a bad feeling.

Either (1) PB is closed, or (2) it has been sold and the new owner is now doing the transfers.

A business that suffers a loss like this would by now have a specific plan and would be falling over themselves to reassure the customer base. Every day that goes by without contact will see customers abandoning ship. The programming world is fast and competitive. I would have expected to at least have received a PB Gazette detailing PB's new roadmap.

Personally, I am not betting my programming future on hopes, dreams and nostalgia. If I did that then I would have stuck with Visual Basic. That being said, I am sticking with PB or whatever it will eventually be called until after Christmas. After that, I will ramp up my current C# learning to a new level.

Website being down is a technical issue? Doubt it. Hell this is a programming company, not Mom and Pop's Gas station. A page with some info would be displayed.

Yes, I am pessimistic.
Paul Squires
FireFly Visual Designer SQLitening Database System JellyFish Pro Editor

James Klutho

Can't imagine there has been time to sell the business. Two weeks for the funeral etc.  Two weeks to huddle with a lawyer to sort out options in light of all the employment contracts and commitments.  Unless Bob had a buddy lined up in case this happened to buy the business, then I vote it is down. If the business is sold, it would not be done like this.

Rick McNeely

Jim Dunn just posted on PlanetSquires that Tom Hanlin emailed him that the forums are being moved to new servers.  Problems are just technical.

Thrilled to hear it.  Poorly handled, tho..

Patrice Terrier

QuotePoorly handled, tho..

That is to say the least, and that would had never happened with a real boss.

The whole "team" was between 4-5 at the time of Bob Zale, where Bob himself was working like 3.


Patrice Terrier
GDImage (advanced graphic addon)

Theo Gottwald

Ok, just close all down is not an option. Simply because its wasted money.
No worker in USA can waste money.
Before you can waste money in USA you need to be one of those people with a golden toilett, like this one:


Therefore if you have a market ready product (like PB is) and they have an online shop, they can at least continue selling what they have.

A total close down is no option. What is in question, is if they get the ship going into newer versions that will be as rockstable as the old was.
There is so much buggy software out there, with lots of features on the paper.
But when you need it, it crashes, Bobs compiler was an exceptions and that made it special.

Eric Pearson

Hi guys --

I emailed Tom Hanlin and he told me the same thing late yesterday, so let's keep our fingers crossed.

-- Eric   (My first post on this forum)

David Roberts

Technical issues? If that was the sole reason then we would not have what we have. Legal issues may result in 'pulling the plug' which is what we do have. FWIW, my money is on a local buy out. PowerBASIC, or whatever, will be back but not quite the same but then that was the case anyway with the demise of it's chief architect. Sometimes it is difficult to stop things looking like a debacle. The whole truth may never be disclosed and that happens more than sometimes.

Eric Pearson

I think the operative phrase is "moved to new servers" not "technical issues".

As in... maybe they are moving everything to a new office building, maybe they hired a hosting service for the web site, etc.  Take my word for it "moving" is often a non-trivial task, especially when something like an old version of vBulletin forum is involved.