Have an amazing solution built in RAD Studio? Let us know. Looking for discounts? Visit our Special Offers page!
News

26 Years… of Delphi

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!

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:

d26_01-7928345

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.

d26_02-4123319

3. Delphi 1 look and feel

This user interface of the Delphi IDE of the original release 26 years ago

d26_03-1714302

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):

d26_04-9599562

tcoffeeandcode

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:

d26_05-4096072

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/:

d26_06-7844568

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):

d26_07-4718356

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):

d26_08-4516986

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:

d26_09-2489513

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:

d26_10-7204394

11. Video games were starting

The video games industry was in its early days, as well (from Game Art HQ):

d26_11-1198795

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)

d26_12-5324791

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:

d26_13-2162257

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:

d26_14-9482307

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!)

d26_15-6751813

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)

d26_16-1540902

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):

d26_17-3282795

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:

d26_18-3618029

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:

d26_19-7592610

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/):

d26_20-3685979

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:

d26_21-3024993

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:

d26_22-4173523

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):

d26_23-6378964

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:

d26_24-7093387

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:

d26_25-2891066

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:

d26_26-1693550

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!
20_new_designs_delphi26-anniv_white_1200x300-4369757


Reduce development time and get to market faster with RAD Studio, Delphi, or C++Builder.
Design. Code. Compile. Deploy.
Start Free Trial   Upgrade Today

   Free Delphi Community Edition   Free C++Builder Community Edition

About author

Marco is one of the RAD Studio Product Managers, focused on Delphi. He's the best selling author of over 20 books on Delphi.

22 Comments

Leave a Reply to Phil Jotham Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

IN THE ARTICLES