Fifteen years of Delphi

ctodx
15 February 2010

Yesterday, Valentine's Day, was the 15th anniversary of Delphi. On 14th February 1995, in the middle of the Software Development conference in San Francisco (SD West), Borland launched this rather good language called Delphi, except that, of course, Delphi was rather more than just the language: it was the stunningly fast compiler, a brand new run-time called the VCL, and a complete RAD IDE with lots of controls.

MangoDiskette At the time I was working for a company called TurboPower Software. We had a booth at SD West but I'd drawn the short straw and wasn't there. Nevertheless, Brian Foley and Lee Inman were and demoing our new still-in-beta Delphi-compatible products, Orpheus and Async Professional. Or, rather, since the Borland booth was being completely mobbed by attendees wanting to see the new product, Brian and Lee were just demoing Delphi itself.

And no wonder the Borland booth was being mobbed. An IDE and language that enabled you to write controls in the language itself? Pow! Take that, Visual Basic.

We'd been using betas and early alphas for a while (I still have the "Mango" diskette set that Borland provided TurboPower — see right for the first one in the set — downstairs in the basement, with, of course, no diskette drive now to read it) and had been playing around with the new RAD technology (drop a button on the form and the code changes!) and features like exceptions. We were completely sold on the new ease-of-use and ease-of-development that Delphi provided — Turbo Pascal for Windows was just horrible — and I still remember that feeling of euphoria on writing my first control, installing it in the IDE, and dropping one on a form. Unlike Nick Hodges' TSmiley, it was a progress bar, if I recall correctly, and eventually became TovcMeter. Lee Inman and I wrote that first version of Orpheus, but apart from the meter, the grid (which we called a table) and its edit controls, I can't remember what other controls I wrote. I suspect that Lee wrote the rest, but I'd have to check with him.

About three or four years later, this upstart new company called Developer Express burst on the scene with, what I can easily admit at this remove, a rather better grid control than the one I'd written for Delphi 1. Of course by then Borland were up to Delphi 3, so it was all very much easier for them than for us pioneers. (Heh, I'd better watch out the next time I see the R&D guys...) DevExpress then proceeded to release a whole set of controls and to take over the VCL third-party UI control market (but don't let Ray hear I said so).

Of course, in the past 15 years, the Delphi world hasn't been totally plain sailing. There's the K-word, the myth that even-numbered versions sucked, Inprise, Borland, Delphi for .NET, is Borland selling it or not?, and so on.

But notwithstanding all that, there certainly has been some remarkable technology released under the "Delphi" banner. 32-bit Delphi 2 only a year after 16-bit Delphi 1. The ability to create OCXs and controls for VB. (Pow! Take that, VB. Mwhahaha!). Design-time data throughout the versions. Delphi Prism. Gesture support. Etcetera, etcetera.

And, now we're promised a Mac OSX version, and there are mutterings about a 64-bit version. It certainly seems the next 15 years are going to be an equally wild ride.

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9 comment(s)
Anonymous
Michael

>>It certainly seems the next 15 years are going to be an equally wild ride.

Turbopower --> >>Please don't send books to Austria:-).<<, I can remember This was more expensive than the components.:-)))).

and  a "paper" from a Devexpress guy in the late 90s I think that explained how to put the editor into grid cells via coding. But it worked, somehow. I never really understood why, but the customer was happy.

And Sheridian grids some kind of Active X I can remember for VB guys, not from you ... somewhat strange things.

These times - very fundamental ... and not so long ago.

If we think of the repsonse times at the moment an IDE appears today in a new version ... the components are already there ... in the 90s one already made a test with the successor Delphi Version of the so called actual before everything that one used was shifted to the actual, but had time because of the patches ...  - today this is something completely diffent.

And the Code Rush + Delphi - I was promised the general protection faults to be back in the .net verson - but somehow the underlying for this behavoir when closing the IDE is "broken". I liked the green bug .. and having the Code Site messages integrated ...

There have been ideas related to the Delphi IDE which no other had for years ...

Thank you for the support over the years ...

Mike

15 February, 2010
sean kearon
sean kearon

That takes me back a long way - thanks for the nostalgia!  I worked professionally with Delphi v1 through to v6.  I'm even old enough to have developed 16 bit apps against Win 3.1!!!  Delphi was the best by a long way and I remember that you wrote some great articles in the Delphi press along with a book or two too!

I left Delphi (sadly) and moved to Dotnet in 2003 and I came to use DevExpress largely through the excellent reputation of your Delphi controls - they were the best!  Have to say that you have continued that well deserved reputation into the Dotnet world too!

15 February, 2010
Anonymous
Craig

What's interesting is that Delphi has not been around much longer than VB was, discounting VB.NET which is an entirely different product.

15 February, 2010
Anonymous
Monzer

For some reason I feel it like it was the week before last week.

16 February, 2010
Anonymous
Senthil Kumar

15 years of Delphi . Thats great to hear

17 February, 2010
Anonymous
GoldyWang

TurboAssemble, TurboC, TurboC++, BorlandC++, Delphi, C++Builder....

Our Coding Path..

18 February, 2010
Joel Mundt
Joel Mundt

Julian,

I remember those early days well.  Brad (my good friend and co-worker) and I had messed with Turbo Pascal for Windows briefly and I still remember how craptastic it was.  And then came Delphi 1.0 and instant redemption...what an awesome tool!!

We were big users of TurboPower products...B-Tree Filer (I think that was yours) back in the days of TurboPascal 6 & 7 (I remember those Runtime Error 216's with masochistic fondness).  Orpheus, Async Professional (Brad built some really cool stuff with that)...we purchased nearly every tool in the TP inventory.

I know he spent a lot of time on the phone with you and we got to meet you at BorCon '97 in Nashville.  After Delphi, it was 5 years of C++ Builder development and now I'm in a VS shop using C#...and DevExpress.

Anyways, thanks a ton for bringing back some great memories of an absolutely revolutionary product...and for continuing to produce some high-quality products yourself.

Regards,

Joel

19 February, 2010
Anonymous
The Chief Priest of Oginiza

Some time in October of 1995, after so much of MFC, I got my copy of Delphi 1 with Neil's seminal book "Delphi for Dummies", and that was the begining of my love affair with Delphi. The last fifteen years have been a wild ride, indeed. Am now at Delphi 2009 and the next fifteen years just looks so much brighter.

20 February, 2010
Anonymous
Tony Antonucci

Thanks for the trip back to memory lane. I know I am dating myself, but I used Turbo Pascal 1.0 for CP/M!

And Borland's original marketing material for TP1 on CP/M included a review from me.

I even was a Borland Beta tester for the never released Modula-2 compiler. I still have the 8" floppies it came on.

After moving thru Turbo Pascal, I embrassed Delphi thru 6 versions, until switching to .Net in about 2003.

Thanks again for the memories.

1 March, 2010

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