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Fragments of The History - Part II

Craig Berntson

Wayne Ratliff originally wrote a database program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Passadena, California. He called it Vulcan (after Mr. Spock of Star Trek). This program was written to help him win the football pool at the office. About 4 years later he began marketing it. and then met up with George Tate and others and Ashton-Tate was born. Note there was never anyone named Ashton, it sounded better. The program was renamed dBASE II because they knew that version 1 wouldn't sell. It originally ran on a CP/M computer and then was moved over to the IBM PC.

Dr. Dave Fulton lived in Toledo, Ohio and saw dBASE and thought he could make a program that was compatable and run faster. He called it FoxBase. About 1989 or 90, FoxPro 1.0 came out. About two years later, FoxPro 2.0 came out. It was about this same time that Borland bought Ashton-Tate after dBASE IV was a huge failure. In June of 1992, Fox Software and Microsoft "merged" and the last version of FoxPro 2.0 was released....the only change was to the copyright information. Fox Software was already well underway on its development of FoxPro for Windows when the merger occured. The first Windows version was 2.5. FoxPro 2.6 was released to provided compatability with the Mac version.

VFP 3.0 was released last year (June 95?) and VFP 5.0 came out in October this year.

As for Clipper, I can't say much except the the Summer 87 version was the big release for a number of years. Clipper 5.0 introduced OOP. Shortly after that Computer Associates bought Nantucket. Clipper has stayed rooted in the DOS world, while FoxPro and dBASE have both made the transition to Windows.

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Thomas Whiteley

A bit of history, in case you may not be aware. The term xBase came into being due to AshtonTate's frequent law suits against any reference to their product, dBASE. Ashton Tate even sued the IEEE, when it said it was going to establish a standard dBASE reference committee. People in the industry were "gun shy", and the term xBase came into use.

It is a term I dislike, and it would take time to explain to a customer just what it meant. When Ahston Tate sued FoxPro, that was close to home, as I had given up ot Ashton Tate and it's dBASE IV product, and had been using FoxPro since 1987.

When Borland bought Ashton Tate, it also did the development world a great service, and dropped all remaining law suites filed by Ashton Tate. I could write a book on how Ashton Tate treated the development community, and it's third party providers. The last law suite Ashton Tate was involved in was very enlightening. The judge ruled since dBASE (Vulcan, written by Jeb Long at the Pasadena Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as a main frame football betting pool application, later converted to the S-100 CPU and CPM operating system, and later sold to Ashton Tate) was developed with taxpayer dollars, and therefore belonged to the public domain.

There are many "flavors" of xBase. I wish someone would come up with a better term!

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