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Development : Delphi's 10th Birthday

Delphi's 10th Birthday

February 14th, 2005

It seems like yesterday, but Delphi was officially released 10 years ago on February 14th 1995, during the Software Development Conference 95 West. Borland has a vendor presentation followed by a party at the Exploratorium. I was there, was already doing Delphi due to an invitation to the beta program as potential book atuhor, and have kept working mostly in Delphi since then.

There are many ways to celebrate. I've decided to collect a few photos and scan some very old documents and make them available on this section of my web site. There are documents falling in different sections, and this is not really a well-organized presentation, rather I've browsed my archives... and shared the result with you.

Time permitting I'll add some comments to each image, but I think most of the material is self-commenting, at least for those who were around at the time...

Related Links: BDN

Related Links: (Borland) Blogs

Related Links: Discussions in Forums

The Launch

This is the invitation to the Delphi launch. It was the binder of the conference catalog. You can read the details for yourselves. There is also my conference speaker pass.

Software Development Conference 95 West: Pictures

The conference was held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA. Here are a few pictures of the conference:

This is the exhibit hall. Notice MS was pushing Windows 95. Notice also many companies now out of business...

After the conference I spent one day noth of SF, with a few friends. You might recognize me in front of the Golden Gate (gee, I was really younger!) and C++ (and now Java) guru Bruce Eckel (with my fiends Norman and Julie).

Software Development Conference 95 West: Brochure

Here are some pages of the conference brochure, with the description of a few Delphi classes, Borland's CEO keynote, and the spacial event with the product launch and the party. Again, it is interesting to see which other products were popular at the time... Sun doing C++, Microsoft pushing MFC, and the like.

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Borcon 5, Orlando

But SD West 95 was not the first public preview of Delphi. This took place at the 5th Borland Conference in Orlando, in June '94. Here are some documents, including a list of talks on Delphi (some of whihc were under NDA!) and some of my very own notes. I actually had witnessed an early preview of Delphi in march '94 (at the SD conference, in San Jose, something I acocunted for in the introduction of the first edition of Mastering Delphi).
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Delphi Beta Testing

As author of past books on Borland products (Borland C++ and OWL) I was invited on the beta for Delphi. I know this is something you are not allowed to say, but since my 1,500 pages book was out soon after the product, it is too easy to guess it. Anyway, following Allen Bauer in his blog, I've added the image of the beta invitation page (really a secret document), floppies of early betas, and a few beta CDs. Notice the "RTM canditate" date and the 5th CD, which was the one distributed freely at the SD launch event on the same day! Finally, there is an exctra CD: the one of Mastering Delphi. I've found also a couple of floppies (I reused them!) of two different builts. The first was on 6 disks, the second I have on 7.

There have been many debates on the code name of the first versions of Delphi, basically because there were many. The floppy product (early betas) is code-named Wasabi, the CDs use the terms Delphi and Delphi 95, while the beta invitation says AppBuilder, which is also the internal name of the class of the main window of the Delphi IDE! Another name that circulated was VBK (Visual Basic Killer), as you can see in the InfoWorld article below). Eventually the most popular beta name, Delphi, emerged as the actual product name. This was unusual, as Borland was starting to call all of the its products with the -Builder name. It turned out, however, that AppBuilder was already an existing Novell product name. Delphi was the name of a online system compating with AOL and Compuserve, but at least it was in a different market.
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Delphi itself

And finally, here is some material about the product itself. I still have an original bok and the full set of manuals (the picture was taken in my office today), but here there is also the famous "VB Killer" leak article, and the fact sheet and other classic product documents.
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The Mastering Delphi Book

Mastering Delphi was a tome of over 1,500 pages, trying to cover every feature of Delphi, soemthing I had to stop traying to do with later editions...
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What about me?

I've put a lot of stuff on display in this page so far, but told you very little about me. Here are some excerpts of the introduction of Mastering Delphi (the first edition) that tell part of the story. Notice in particular how I was introduced to Delphi almost by chance, how I changed my job because of it, and who did the tech review of my first book.

Last year, I went to San Jose, California, for a conference and was in a hotel room with Michael Himan and Zack Urlocker (both working for Borland at that time). After some chatting about compilers, Borland, languages, and similar topics, Michael asked me for my wish list of features for the next version of Borland C++. I spoke for some time about tools that could make Windows programming much simpler. He replied, "We have what you ask, only it's not based on C++." Zack moved to a keyboard and showed me what was to be known as Delphi. I was astonished, but at that time I could not really realize how a great job Borland was doing. I've left in the material an introduction of the features I liked best at that time, which remains quite accurate even today, after 10 years!
My first thought was that Pascal was striking back. Although, at that time, I earned most of my living from C++, this made me happy. Pascal had been my first serious programming language--the one used at the University for the first projects--and at that time, Pascal actually meant Turbo Pascal.
The more I delved into this programming language and the Delphi environment, the more I liked it, and the more I wanted to write this book. Writing articles and books, discussing object-oriented programming languages, and teaching Windows programming had been my job for some years, and Delphi was the natural next step in this direction.
There are many programming environments you can work with, but Delphi is outstanding for a number of reasons. Here are my top ten reasons to use Delphi, in reverse order:
10. Previous Borland Pascal and C++ compilers
9. The third-party components and tools
8. The editor, the debugger, the browser, and the other tools
7. The library source code availability
6. The form-based and object-oriented approach
5. A fast compiler
4. The database support
3. The close integration with Windows programming
2. Delphi's component technology
1. The Object Pascal language
This book actually owes a lot to Nan Borreson of Borland, who first suggested that I have a look at the product and write about it. At that time, other people pushed the idea of a book about Delphi, including Steve Guty (the editor of my previous books) and Bruce Eckel, a friend and an author of great C++ books. In the last year, Bruce and I spent some time discussing Delphi while wandering in such different places as the small streets of Venice or the woods north of San Francisco.
While working on the book, many things happened. I started my own company after quitting my consulting job at Mondadori Informatica, where I learned a lot about Windows programming from Stefano Maruzzi. So, thanks a lot to Stefano, his wife Antonella, Claudio Galletti, Giovanni Librando (for introducing me to Visual Basic and helping me to understand why Delphi is better), Andrea Provaglio, and also to Elena, Mariella, and all of the other people working there. I still write regularly for a magazine they publish, PCProfessionale ( the Italian edition of Ziff-Davis' PCMagazine). This magazine actually published my first Delphi reviews and articles, thanks to Giorgio Panzeri (who still thinks I can deliver him articles on time) and Roberto Mazzoni.
Danny Thorpe, also at Borland, did incredibly great work, finding many errors, suggesting improvements, revealing features I was not aware of, bashing me on silly mistakes, explaining to me several times things I could not get, adding notes to the text, and providing many insights. The quality of the book owes quite a lot to Danny, more than any other person, so thank you very much.