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The Long and Winding Road To Today’s Delphi – Happy 29th Birthday !

The Long and Winding Road To Delphi’s 29th Birthday

This blog post contains a quick look at 29+ years of development, innovation, community and fun with Delphi.

It Started with Pascal

In order to get to today’s 29th year of Delphi, we have to start back in 1970 with the creation of the Pascal programming language by Niklaus Wirth (1984 ACM Turing Award Laureate) and his team at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH).

niklaus wirth 1025774

Here are a few articles and resource links covering the start of the Pascal language.

Turbo Pascal – v1.0 – Anders Hejlsberg, Philippe Kahn, et al – CP/M, DOS – November 1983

David I and Turbo Pascal

In my home office with a blow up of the Byte Magazine Turbo Pascal Ad


Additional Links:

Turbo Pascal for the Amiga (1985)

Turbo Pascal for the Amiga was developed using a Sun Microsystems workstation (it was fun to see a Wordstar=like editor and Turbo Pascal compiler for the Motorola 68000 processor) and tested on a prototype Amiga. Borland ran an ad in the premier issue of Amiga World but never released the product. Having the 68000 based Pascal compiler helped us move forward with the development of Turbo Pascal for the Mac.

The Amiga World ad: https://bytecellar.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/Turbo_Pascal-Amiga_World_Vol_01_01_1985.jpg

Pascal with Objects

In mid 1985  Object Pascal was created by Larry Tesler’s team at Apple Computer in consultation with Pascal’s inventor Niklaus Wirth. The collaboration started with emails between Larry and Niklaus.

Turbo Pascal for the Mac (1986)

Objects first appeared in Turbo Pascal for the Macintosh. Development leveraged the Motorola 68000 compiler built as part of Turbo Pascal for the Amiga, an IDE and units that provided access to the Macintosh operating system, toolbox, QuickDraw, graphics, file system and more.

Borland Turbo Pascal v5.5 and Microsoft Quick Pascal v1.0

For DOS development, Object Pascal arrived with Turbo Pascal version 5.5 (May 2, 1989). Microsoft also released an Object Pascal based product later in 1989. There is a Pascal compiler story behind the competition between Borland and Microsoft. Early in 1989 we had heard rumors that Microsoft was talking with a French company, Nat Systeme that had Object Pascal compilers for DOS and OS/2. Philippe Kahn told Gary Whizin (Pascal development manager) and myself to fly to several European countries (including UK, France and Denmark) and meet with top technical magazine editors to show them a pre-release version of Turbo Pascal 5.5 and highlight how it was different and better than Object Pascal.

In the US, Jon Udell wrote a Byte magazine article titled “Clash of the Object-Oriented Pascals” that appeared in  Byte Magazine July 1989, Pages 104-106. https://www.worldradiohistory.com/Archive-Byte/80s/Byte-1989-07.pdf. Udell’s article concluded with “Finally, although the two 00P dialects are roughly equivalent, Borland’s
encompasses Microsoft’s and adds several quite useful conveniences. The battle isn’t over. Object-oriented technology is on the march and will doubtless soon appear in other forms. There’s little hope of mastering the complexities of modern graphical environments without the leverage that 00P provides. But while there’s no telling what surprises the two companies may have in store, this round goes to Borland.”

Microsoft eventually discontinued QuickPascal while Turbo/Borland Pascal and Delphi continued to innovate.


Turbo/Borland Pascal with Object Frameworks (1990, 1991,1992)

After Turbo Pascal for the Mac which supported objects and the Mac toolbox, Object Pascal was used to create frameworks for DOS (text mode) and Windows (GUI) programming. These frameworks were also ported to Borland C++ and, in an agreement with Novell, OWL for C++ was ported to Novell’s AppWare Foundation.

Turbo Pascal v6.0 with Turbo Vision (Oct 23, 1990) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbo_Vision

Turbo Pascal for Windows with Object Windows Library (OWL)

  • v1.0 – Feb 13, 1991
  • v1.5 – Jun 8, 1992


Borland Pascal v7 (Oct 27, 1992) – Included the DOS IDE and compiler as well as the Windows IDE and compiler.

OWLNext for C++ – Borland’s Object Windows Library for the modern age – https://sourceforge.net/projects/owlnext/


Development of what would become Delphi, started with a research project called “Monet” (because it was going to be a work of art) to test versions of “AppBuilder” (a code name in the time when many developer tools used the “builder” name including JBuilder, IntraBuilder, C++Builder) finally to become “Delphi”.

Delphi 1 (Feb 14, 1995)

delphi1 easter egg anders

Delphi 1 includes this Easter egg picture of Anders Hejlsberg (“Anders And”) holding a drink floating in one of Borland Campus ponds.

The following are links to articles about the development and launch of Delphi version 1.0.

Delphi v2.0 (Feb 10, 1996)

I demonstrated a pre-release version of Delphi v2 at the Win95 launch (Aug. 24, 1995) on the Microsoft campus in Redmond WA inside a tent on the lawn. I was right next to Philippe Kahn who was demoing Sidekick for Win95. I wrote a blog post as part of the 27th birthday of Delphi and the worst program I ever development while on the flight to Seattle (you can find the source code to my “Dreaded Sorts” program in Charlie Calvert’s Delphi 2 Unleashed book. . https://blogs.embarcadero.com/happy-27th-birthday-delphi-building-the-future-how-we-get-to-delphi-36/#Worst_and_Best_Delphi_Programs_I_Ever_Created

Delphi v3.0 (August, 5, 1997)

This release brought two really important capabilities to Delphi: component packages, component templates, and integration with COM through interfaces.

One of my favorite Delphi stories is when Charlie Calvert and I attended a Microsoft Professional Developer Conference in San Diego (September 1997) where they announced plans for COM+ (“COM+ will make it even easier for developers to create software components in any language using any tool. COM+ builds on the factors that have made today’s COM the choice of developers worldwide”) and the audience was going crazy. Charlie and I looked at each other and smiled knowing that Delphi had already made COM programming so simple with Delphi 3’s Interfaces (removing the need to always add those 100+ lines of code to work with COM in other languages) long before Microsoft. https://news.microsoft.com/1997/09/23/microsoft-announces-com/

Two historic Delphi birthday celebration webinars

Here are two, of the many YouTube Delphi videos, that showcase members of the Delphi development team talking about the creation of Delphi.

  • Delphi 17th Birthday Webinar Replay with David I and Special Guests Allen Bauer and Barry Kelly (Feb 2012) – https://youtu.be/R8goMTsEhUU
  • Delphi 25th Birthday Celebration with Delphi’s Creators – Celebrate 25 years of Delphi in this awesome webinar. The creators of Delphi, Anders Hejlsberg and Chuck Jazdzewski, sit down with some of Delphi’s leading developers for an insightful conversation celebrating the impact of 25 years of Delphi. https://youtu.be/PAD-KiOjgIc

There are many more stories about the innovations that Delphi continues to deliver to developers. You’ll find additional articles and links on the “Celebrating Delphi” pages:

A Few Delphi Books to add to Your Programming Library

Some Other Delphi(s)

There were other Delphi(s) developed or named over the years including Delphi for Java, Kylix, Delphi for .NET, Delphi Prism and Delphi for PHP. Below you’ll find product information and background stories for each of them.

Delphi for Java

In 1998 the company name was changed from Borland to Inprise (which was a short for “Integrating the Enterprise”). At our August 1998 developer conference in Denver, CEO Del Yocam talked about the new name, about JBuilder, CORBA, InterBase and Java in front of a mostly Delphi development audience. To ensure that Delphi developers were also included, Del said that there was also a place for Delphi developers in the enterprise world. During the technology keynote that showcased developing enterprise applications, Delphi chief architect Chuck Jazdzewski  came running up from the audience to the stage holding a disk containing something the team had been working on. Chuck proceeded to demonstrate a Delphi for Java bytecode compiler that enabled the creation of server side Delphi programs that ran on Java virtual machines.

dcc32j command line compiler

Kylix – Delphi for Linux

With the rise of Linux distribution use and demand from Delphi developers to be able to build applications and servers that ran on Linux, our Borland CEO Dale Fuller cheered the development team to create Delphi for Linux and the product was named Kylix in keeping with Delphi’s Greek historical reference. A Kylix is cup with a shallow bowl and a stem. There were three releases of Kylix products:

  • Kylix 1 – March 7, 2001
  • Kylix 2 – November 6, 2001
  • Kylix 3 – July 23, 2002

Delphi developers can still create Linux console, GUI and server applications with Delphi’s support for Linux and using FireMonkey for Linux.

Delphi for .NET (Dec 22, 2003)

This release was a Christmas present for developers. Borland Delphi 8 for .NET provided Delphi compatibility. Marco Cantu said “One of the advantages you have right using Delphi, in fact, is that you can compile your code (often the same source code) on different platforms: Win32, .NET and (with more limitations) even Linux.”

Marco’s book chapter “Essential Delphi 8 for .NET” – Copyright 2004, Marco Cantu – https://www.marcocantu.com/d8ebook/

Delphi Prism

Delphi Prism (later known as Embarcadero Prism) derived from the Oxygene programming language (previously known as Chrome) from RemObjects. It ran in the Microsoft Visual Studio IDE rather than RAD Studio. It was licensed and re-branded by Embarcadero to replace Delphi.NET when that product was discontinued.
Introduction to Delphi Prism – https://youtu.be/3PAB_oF5mtY

Delphi for PHP

Delphi for PHP was a RAD environment that runs in Windows that produces standard-compliant PHP code. It was made by Qadram and includes dozens of components, even for AJAX and access to databases (MySQL and InterBase). It also uses the VCL for PHP open source framework.
Delphi for PHP early preview – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QshZ_IUE4Y

So Many Memories, So Little Time!

There is not enough time in one blog post to cover all of the innovations that have taken place from the start of Pascal to Delphi’s Modern Object Pascal.  There are so many great developers, writers and team members who continue to push forward with Delphi and development technology. To the many members of our developer community I continue to be amazed at what you are doing and how much we, as software engineers and creators, can build using Delphi, components, libraries and tools.

While I am semi-retired, I still enjoy programming with Delphi every day.

Here is one last memory I’d like to share. You can download a zip file (197 MB) containing a WAV audio recording from the 10th anniversary of Delphi online conversation I had with my friends Anders Hejlsberg, Gary Whizin and Zack Urlocker.

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