Today is Delphi 26th anniversary. A very long time… Many things have changed, some more than others. Here’s my 26 picks!
On February 14th 1995, Borland introduced a new tool for developers, one that sparked a lot of enthusiasm and over 26 years has been used to build applications used by billions of people (think about the good old Skype) and it still being used today for building apps for many incredibly different tasks. We are running a showcase for that. But here I don’t want to cover the launch day (you can refer to my old birthdays site) or the showcase, but rather go over how things have changed over years and how some have kept their original value.
I’ve picked 13 areas, presenting for each the two images (one for 26 years ago and one for today), for a total of 26 pictures!
Table of Contents
1. Windows in 1995
When Delphi was released in 1995, the most commonly used PC operating system was Windows 3.1 (along with Windows 3.11, with network support), here running on a VM:
2. Windows in 2021
This is Windows 10, the version currently installed on my primary desktop PC. It has changed quite a bit… and also the hardware power of the computer.
3. Delphi 1 look and feel
This user interface of the Delphi IDE of the original release 26 years ago
4. The Delphi 10.4.1 IDE
This is how Delphi looks today (with the good old light style I generally use, I know others prefer the dark style):
5. The Web was starting
The Internet was just getting going, and the most popular online forum for Delphi was on Compuserve — I know, something only older developers understand — it wasn’t a web site, it was the entire online experience for some. Here is what a Google search returns:
6. The Web is now everywhere
While it looks obvious how we rely on the internet and the Web, it would have been difficult to predict. See some data below from https://www.internetlivestats.com/:
7. Mobile phones for phone calls much else
I don’t think I owned a mobile phone in 1995, my first was a Nokia a few years later. A phone at the time was like this (Ericsson GH688, CC BY 3.0):
8. Smart phones are more powerful than the computers we had
Today we can hardly live without a phone. And phones are in most cases multi-core computers, with more memory than PC had back then. And they can run Delphi applications! Some typical apps (well, that’s my phone):
9. A window was a TForm in Delphi 1
Since the early days, a Delphi TForm (like other TWinControl classes) encapsulates a Windows handle from user.dll and form operations call Windows API and trigger system messages. Delphi is visual (see below) but has a core OOP architecture — an application form inherits from the base TForm class:
10. A window is still a TForm (or actually 2, VCL + FMX)
Today a form is still at the foundation of applications, whether VCL (see below the very beginning of the base class definition) or FireMonkey, in which case the forms maps to a UI element of Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, or Linux:
11. Video games were starting
The video games industry was in its early days, as well (from Game Art HQ):
12. Video and online games are huge
Here a new mobile game written in Delphi from this Embarcadero blog post (notice, it’s in the IDE)
13. Counting to 26 in Delphi 1
This is the code you could write in 1995 to count numbers in Delphi and the resulting, simple, application:
14. Counting to 26 isn’t much different today in Delphi
We can write and compile the same exact code today, both in VCL for Windows or FireMonkey for desktop and mobile. But we can also take advantage of new features of the Delphi language to write is like below:
15. Data was Paradox, DBase, Clipper, FoxPro
Delphi owes this name to its ability to talk with databases (Oracle + Delphi). And it has a wizard to make it easy to crate a database application (we are bringing something similar back!)
16. Data is Oracle, SQL Server, Azure, AWS, REST APIs, and all over
Today you can use FireDAC and many other libraries to access data in Delphi. But data is not just in databases any more. A few days ago I blogged about fetching rest API data via Delphi’s REST Debugger (see my recent blog post)
17. This is me in 1995 (days after the Delphi launch)
I know not a great quality picture, the launch was in San Francisco a I stayed around a few days (from www.marcocantu.com/delphibirth/default.htm):
18. This is me a month ago
I took a very short trip to Bobbio (it’s less than an hour drive, you cannot to much more during a pandemic) — picture by Benny Cantu:
19. RAD was a revolution
Delphi offered (and still offers) a unique combination of rapid visual design (like VB before it) and a robust OOP framework, allowing to sue and write components in the same environment and in a seamless way. Here is an ad of the early days:
20. Delphi still makes development fast
While many other coding styles have surfaced, and you can use any advanced patterns with Delphi (MVVM, IoC, etc) Delphi still provides great productivity to developers, as this recent case study from Embarcadero highlights (image taken from blogs.embarcadero.com/published-discovering-the-best-developer-framework-through-benchmarking/):
21. Books were something very important, as you couldn’t Google a class name or ask on Stack Overflow. Here are some of my early Delphi books:
22. Books are still a thing, printed or ebooks
The technical books market is much smaller and very different, but books are still printed (and many on Delphi recently). This is my latest, still to be published in print:
23. VCL was the best library for WinAPI
No other class library of the time was so nicely integrated with the Windows API. But MFC and WinForms from Microsoft never got even close to the VCL quality and completeness. This is a hierarchy of the library (but not for Delphi 1, for Delphi 7 much later):
24. VCL is the best library for WinAPI, COM integration, WinRT and soon Project Reunion
The library keeps expanding, as of today wraps Windows APIs, COM and shell objects, WinRT platform APIs. And we keep adding new components and mapping to new APIs. The VCL already embraces features of Microsoft Project Reunion and more will come. Here is a styled VCL apps, it’s very easy to take existing applications and make them look modern in a fraction of the time of a rewrite:
25. Delphi was fun to use
Fun for developers, nice and enjoyable. And in Delphi 1 there was an Easter egg with Delphi language architect, Anders Hejlsberg:
26. Delphi is fun to use
Delphi is still fun to use today, has an active community, a number of highly talented MVPs. The last version has an Easter egg showcasing last year 25th anniversary:
And to celebrate 26 years Embarcadero is offering 26% off!
26 images to tell the story of Delphi so far. Stay tuned for a new chapter of the story coming soon. And help us celebrate.
But in the meantime, you can also take advantage of a great offer and buy Delphi wih a 26% discount to celebrate the anniversary!
You can find more information about modern and professional programming techniques in this article about Delphi forums.
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Congratulation! Keep up the great work. We depend on it!
Very cool! I was 15 in 1995 and delphi 1 was 1st rad tool I’ve ever seen – and loved it – it made me stick with development for long. Thank you for making my life better 🙂
Fingers crossed for years to come and job well done!
Btw: I still have your books in the bookshelf 😉
I enjoyed reading the article. I was using all Delphi versions up to and including Delphi 2006. I stopped using the Delphi for two reasons. One was the fact that the company I worked for, ordered me to go all Windows. I would continue using it for my personal use if not for the fact that Delphi simply become too expensive, so the Delphi 7 was the last version I owned. I even had and used Kylix. So, when you say that Delphi IS fun to use, it is for some – not for all.
Embarkadero would do itself great service if it would release community version (like MS VS or al least something along the lines og Delphi Light – version which could be bought for Borland’s kind of price.
Btw, even if I don’t use Delphi for a very long time now, I still keep your Delphi 6 and Delphi 7 books. Sadly, the only use I have for the books is that I use them to show others how good technical book should be written.
Did you see: https://www.embarcadero.com/de/free-tools ?
Like you, I couldn’t justify paying for Delphi upgrades as it would only be for personal use. But I recently installed Delphi 10.3.3 community edition, which is free for non-commercial use. It comes with a 12 month licence, but I’m assuming I will be able to renew this when it runs out.
Really enjoyed the trip ! Philippe Kahn (my math professor 1987, Anders H, Turbo Pascal, up to Delphi 7. Love your presentation. Thanks.
Fabulous trip down memory lane.
I remember going out and buying Delphi version 1.0 all on the strength of the article I had read in one computer magazine or another. Delphi pretty much started my career in programming (I had used various basics before then as I had an Amiga) due to it’s ease of use, visual environment and OO nature.
I used Delphi up to version 4, I tried version 5 but I think things went wrong in the version. I think it was about the same time they tried to include ,net? I could be wrong on that point. I subsequently moved on to use C#, but i will never forget the early days of Borland Delphi.
Thanks to you Marco Cantu many many years ago (23?) I started GUI development with Delphi and I remember very well your high-quality books. Great memories! At the time Delphi was far beyond anything else. Like Kylix, or the one-file artifact.
Wow… I worked for Borland in UK; remember playing with Delphi, C-Builder, J-Builder etc. Good to see it is still going strong.
Mastering Delphi was the first programming book I ever owned, having just learned turbo pascal at school in 1997. I loved working through the examples and building things.
I write software for a living now (although not in Delphi), and that book was a big early influence, thank you!
Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I’m still actively developing with Delphi 7. I’d love to keep up with the newer versions but it’s just too expensive. I wish there was a community version like Microsoft’s Visual Studio.
I believe it is the greatest development tool ever, combing power and ease of use at the same time.
Delphi was my main programming tool since version 1 back in 1995.
I don’t know if I am right or wrong.. but I think the source code written in Delphi during its best years exceeds that of any other programming language till now. And still it is available for everybody to learn from.
Happy Birthday Delphi.
With My Best Wishes.
Congratulations Marco for all the great job done. I left Delphi in 2009 but I am still interested on it and glad knowing it goes on.
Delphi 1: I built a small app, overnight, for Phillips to print a label for a TV set. It was my first pascal program.
DELPHI IS MY GREAT LOVE 25 YEARS
Super great post. As a big fan of Delphi & software engineer, Delphi gave me huge opportunities in my life since 1995. I hope Delphi continue to innovate as a multi-platform development environment.
Great article – took me back to 1995 and being with one – if not the first – UK companies to start using Delphi which was vastly superior to the other options available. We’d tried those out – lots of false starts as we started migrated character based legacy products to a GUI environment.
There’s a few typos in the article unfortunately which spoil the fun look back.
I was on the leading edge of PC software development when I found Delphi and I stayed there ever since. I love Delphi; I think I have every book written about it. I made a point to visit Delphi (sanctuary) in Greece and took a selfie of me and my laptop on a 2,000 year old boulder in front of the Temple of Apollo. I was running my Blackjack training program, one of many I developed in Delphi. Presently I have “Sydney” and TMS Web Core.
Worked on Delphi 3 & 4 for a while and totally loved it.
been with Delphi since the beginning… D1 through to XE10.4.2 still support a lot of code running in it and still works really well… love the 26% off offer :-)… slight peeved off that that it doesn’t apply to existing customers who still support the product 🙁
Nice post Marco
I think it’s time to go back to Delphi 1, it’s all gone too far;)