Borland Delphi

Borland Delphi is a high-level, compiled, strongly typed language that supports structured and object-oriented design. Delphi language is based on Object Pascal. Today, Delphi is much more than simply "Object Pascal language".

The project codenamed Delphi hatched in mid 1993. Why Delphi? It was simple: "If you want to talk to [the] Oracle, go to Delphi". When it came time to pick a retail product name, after an article in Windows Tech Journal about a product that will change the life of programmers, the proposed (final) name was AppBuilder.

Since Novell released its Visual AppBuilder, the guys at Borland needed to pick another name; it became a bit of a comedy: the harder people tried to dismiss "Delphi" for the product name, the more it gained support. Once touted as the "VB killer" Delphi has remained a cornerstone product for Borland.

Delphi uses the language Pascal, a third generation structured language. It is what is called a highly typed language. This promotes a clean, consistent programming style, and, importantly, results in more reliable applications. Pascal has a considerable heritage:

Pascal appeared relatively late in the history of programming languages. It probably benefited from this, learning from Fortran, Cobol and IBM’s PL/1 that appeared in the early 1960’s. Niklaus Wirth is claimed to have started developing Pascal in 1968, with a first implementation appearing on a CDC 6000 series computer in 1970.

Curiously enough, the C language did not appear until 1972. C sought to serve quite different needs to Pascal. C was designed as a high level language that still provided the low level access that assembly languages gave. Pascal was designed for the development of structured, maintainable applications.

In 1975, Wirth teamed up with Jensen to produce the definitive Pascal reference book “Pascal User Manual and Report”. Wirth moved on from Pascal in 1977 to work on Modula - the successor to Pascal.

In 1982 ISO Pascal appears. The big event is in November 1983, when Turbo Pascal is released in a blaze of publicity. Turbo Pascal reaches release 4 by 1987. Turbo Pascal excelled on speed of compilation and execution, leaving the competition in its wake.

Delphi, Borland’s powerful Windows? and Linux? programming development tool first appeared in 1995. It derived from the Turbo Pascal? product line.

As the opposition took heed of Turbo Pascal, and caught up, Borland took a gamble on an Object Oriented version, mostly based on the Pascal object orientation extensions. The risk paid off, with a lot of the success due to the thought underlying the design of the IDE (Integrated Development Environent), and the retention of fast compilation and execution.

This first version of Delphi was somewhat limited when compared to today’s heavyweights, but succeeded on the strength of what it did do. And speed was certainly a key factor. Delphi went through rapid changes through the 1990’s.

From that version 1, Borland has now reached version 7, a stepping stone away from the rival Microsoft? Net architecture, based on their rival to Delphi - Visual Basic. Delphi remains, in the opinion of the author, the best development tool for stand alone Windows and Linux applications. Pascal is a cleaner and much more disciplined language than Basic, and adapted much better to Object Orientation than Basic, but Borland probably need to move fast to bridge the gap to .Net.

It is unfortunate that Microsoft once again attempt to monopolise computing - Delphi deserves to survive the twists and turns of fate, if only because of its quality, speed and consistency.