The death of the legend

Recently, Borland announced that it was getting out of the Software Development Tools market and was going to concentrate on Software Delivery Optimization (SDO) and Application Lifecycle Management (ALM). Last month, they ‘restructured to more closely align to this new corporate direction’. With all of my recent turmoil, it really didn’t sink in. We all new that Borland as a company has been almost dead for a decade but it still just kept going and kept its foot in the development community. Now, it’s completely out of the development pond.

I was around when Turbo C v1.0 was introduced. This move means more to us old timers than the current crop of developers because they don’t remember the pain of hours long compiles in MS C (yes there was a time when there was no ‘Visual’) and the completely useless compiler error messages (that took hours to resolve) and even when there wasn’t really a debugger (just something that thought it was). Then Borland steps in with a tool that compiled 150K lines per second and had a real-time interactive debugging tool! Oh, my! We were in heaven! At that time we didn’t realize that Borland was actually starting the explosion of growth and advancement in the development tools arena. MS had MSC and it had been pretty much static, then Borland Turbo C came along and MS ‘woke up’ and realized that software dev tools held a treasure of potential that was still unrealized. There were a few years of blindingly rapid releases that brought MSVC v6 into being. Borland had made some advancement with Turbo C ending with Turbo C++, but had somehow stalled. They bought a windowing library to allow for ‘true’ windows development, but they bought it incomplete and shipped it as complete. They were firing from the hip, living on the name Borland and spending lavishly without reinvesting into what the name Borland actually meant to developers. They ran in a dozen different directions: application server, word processors, networking, other languages, and so many others it’s hard to remember. They made decisions at the top to make sure that their menus and hot keys were ‘different from Microsoft’s’. They hired Hejlsberg and created Delphi that could have taken them back into the game, but key fumbles and a the unerring mindset of ‘being Borland is good enough’ stabbed Delphi in the stomach even as it launched. And all this time, MS was concentrating on tools, developers and marketing and was doing it very well. By getting caught off guard by Turbo C and getting burned (yes, burned) by it, they learned quickly and focused an unbelievable amount of money, time and mindshare on making sure it never happened again. MS was focused and determined. Anyone who knows MS at all knows that when MS sets their minds on it, it WILL happen.

With that in mind, now remember that MS hired Hejlsberg to create C#. They knew his talent and they knew the potential that Delphi had that was lost. Now we enjoy the outcome of this explosion and there are even more amazing things to come. But for now, we need to pay our respects to the final death of what was once a bright star in our development world.


About JohnHowell

I am a professional software developer with over 20 years of experience. I currently specialize in Microsoft technologies such as VS, TFS, C#, VB.Net, WCF, WPF, WW, etc.
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2 Responses to The death of the legend

  1. Good God, you must be old!

  2. JMarkHowell says:

    Just because I can remember when dirt was created doesn’t mean I’m that old. 😉

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