Over the past decades biomass gasification has been regarded as a very promising technology, because of the large potential and the option of advanced applications. In this paper a 30-year overview is presented of the worldwide development of biomass gasification as part of the more general field of gasification, based on both literature and science and technology indicators. The first period of development until the mid-80s is characterized by large interest in coal gasification and domination by the USA. The second period relates more to biomass gasification. It starts in the mid-1990s and is dominated by Europe, although China and Japan are coming up strongly. The technology has been successful in a few niche markets, but largely remains confined to RD&D niches. High-end applications like IGCC and transport fuels have received major interest in research and development. However, biomass gasification is not yet mature enough to be widely applied in the market. It is still in a stage of variation and there has been no dominant design yet. In most markets it is unable to compete with other technologies. We do not expect a breakthrough on the short term, a gradual niche development seems much more likely.