Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Happy Birthday Delphi

It slipped by with just a slight whisper. February 14th (St. Valentine's day in the U.S.) marked the 9th anniversary of the initial launch of Delphi 1.0. It has been quite a journey.

I remember working fervently on the next release of Borland Pascal (integrated protected-mode debugging anyone?) while Chuck J. and Anders H. were off doing some interesting things to the Turbo Pascal language. One of the first things I remember them adding was the "class" syntax. This all sounds somewhat blase' but at the time is was exciting. Now the VMT pointer in a class was a 32-bit pointer. For the more "seasoned" among you, you might recall that the old "object" syntax limited the size and number of VMTs to what could fit in a 64k segment. This was because of the use of word-sized VMT pointers. No longer were the number of classes limited to this silly size restriction. Now a the VMT could be codegen'd into the same code segment as the code itself. Then came properties; I was starting to reel at this point... then the final kicker was virtual constructors and class references. Immediately, I began to look at all these language extensions and how I could apply them to Turbo Vision. I was also working with a hotshot compiler writer, Peter Sollich, on getting a 32bit version of Borland Pascal and 32bit Turbo Vision up and running.

Finally, one day, Gary Whizin (long-time Turbo/Borland Pascal/Delphi R&D manager), visits me in my office. He says, "You know that stuff Anders and Chuck are working on? We need an IDE that runs natively on Windows. All that work you've been doing on Borland Pascal 8.0 with integrating the new editor kernel, I need you to drop that and move over to getting it working in Windows." Looking back on this, I was still the new kid on the block and had no idea how much they must have trusted my ability when they handed me that task. I just simply stated, "Sure."

This was the spring of 1993. I had no idea that we were about to embark on a journey that has been one of the most exciting and rewarding of my career. You see, I started at Borland in January 1992 after about a year stint as a member of the relatively new online peer support group called, Team Borland for the Borland Compuserve forums. I had been invited into TeamB by Danny Thorpe after being very active in answering the questions from many of my peers. I remember answering a lot of OOP related questions since that was a relatively new model of programming and esspecially since it had just been introduced in Turbo Pascal 5.5. When Turbo Pascal 6.0 was released with the new Turbo Vision application framework, I took to it like a duck to water. It seemed so natural and simple. In fact I was one of the first ones to write a custom control and publish it for Turbo Vision. I must have caught the eye of someone at Borland, because in the fall of 1991, I came out to Scotts Valley for the Borland/Compuserve online picnic. This is where I met Chuck Jazdzewski. We had a lot in common. Newly married, (at the time ;-) two children, all boys, and we both had a passion for Turbo Pascal.

I've always believed that in order to learn, you must surround yourself with those you consider smarter and more talented than yourself. So, in early November 1991, I received an odd little e-mail from Chuck. It looked like a form letter that was sent out to several folks. It merely asked a few questions about the kinds of things for which I was using Turbo Pascal and esspecially Turbo Vision. So, I dutifully responded. A few days later I got another message asking if it was OK if someone contacted me to talk about this "survey." When I finally got this phone call, it quickly became obvious that this was a recruiter. So I asked, point blank, "So is this position for someplace like Tech Support?" The recruiter chuckled and said, "Oh no. This is an R&D position!" That was when I heard a loud thud... as my jaw struck the floor. I then had phone interviews with Chuck and Anders. Then, I flew to San Jose and drove to Scotts Valley where I endured two full days of grueling interviews. I was even interviewed by Danny Thorpe... and that didn't feel like an interview. We had dinner together down on the Santa Cruz municipal wharf. Must have worked out, because here I am, over 12 years later and still working on Delphi.

So, for me, Delphi has consumed over 11 years of my life. In that time, I now have four wonderful children, two boys and twin girls. Also, my wife has endured all those long hours and delayed vacations. In fact, my wife was with me on February 14th, 1995 in San Jose at SDWest for the launch of Delphi 1.0. Although, I've tried to make it up to her ever since ;-o...

So, Happy Birthday Delphi..