Anyone who has, is, or was into programming most likely all had one thing in common.... they all started out programming in Basic. As if you can't tell by the name of it, basic is one of the programming languages that is simple, or basic if you will. Basic uses a simple syntax with words that a novis can easily understand. With commands like PRINT, GOTO, DO LOOP, IF THEN, etc even a non computer person can make a simple basic program with ease. With PC's the main programs have been GWBasic, Basica, and of course QBasic. Though there are many others, those have been the big ones.
Basic's highest popularity has really peeked at two different points in time. The first would be in the late 70's and early 80's, with the 8-Bit computers like Apple IIe, Commodore Vic 20 and 64, Atari's 8-bit machine and a few others coming into the home at a price that wasn't an arm and a leg. Also with a lot of these computers, doing things like sprites and sound were fairly easy to do in the code since most of these functions were built into the hardware. Also people could make their own programs with ease(so to speak). But then these programmers wanted better performance, they wanted their programs to do more and do it faster.