Meh. BASIC, shmasic. Boo.
I think BASIC was good because of its ubiquity at a time during the late 1970s and early 1980s, but it was indeed an atrocity. There were always better ways in which you could learn to program a computer easily and also learn a measure of style and technique. In many ways, I agree with Dijkstra's views, though perhaps not exactly with the way he expressed them.
In my experience, there are two types of people who learned to program in BASIC: those who were damaged irrevocably by the language's laissez faire attention to proper flow control and technique; and those who were never comfortable with the lack of structure and limited expressiveness of the language, and who only used it because it was the only thing available.
The former group are those bashed by Dijkstra, those who never grew out of the language and who forever will remain tainted by its mark. The latter group includes those who used BASIC merely as a stepping stone in their skills formation and bailed out of the ship as soon as they were given the chance. They ended up picking up Assembly Language, PASCAL, ALGOL, SmallTalk, C, Java, or whatever; and went on to greater pastures.
It's this second set who remember BASIC fondly, as their first step into a greater world of computing. I'd argue (as I'm sure Dijkstra would) that their encounter with BASIC was merely an accident of history, and that any language with sufficient accessibility at the time would have done the job for them.
All that said, I have very fond memories of dabbling with BASIC when I was younger. I also have some very sharp memories of how it tried to wreck my brain, and how I had to actively fight against it.
P.S. Oh yeah, and Dijkstra was a dick.
Edited by DZ-Jay, Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:25 AM.