Going Digital

Life after Analog

This is not a blog but you can of course comment on it at the end.  This is a period of my life in the tech-industry in chronological order.  I hope!

My life during this time was all about the code...

Back then we only needed to know two languages.  A back end language, and a front end or interface language.  In my case I latched onto Microsoft SQL and Visual Basic.  Why those languages?  Well it was because I was coming from a DOS environment and that means I was using DBase for data and some interface or it was Basic language.  Lots of lines of code back then, not that there is any less with todays languages.  Even with all these libraries and shared code, it never ceases to amaze me at how much more you have to learn and write each time.

Now to go through the actual history of code and what it all meant?  If you ask a kid programming today what DOS means he would look at you like you are from another planet or something... it all started with DOS (Disk Operating System) which originated from IBM who had no idea what they had and gave the license to Bill Gates and his buddies for a song.  The rest is now actually history, literally.  Bill and his buddies created Microsoft and then the Windows operating system, which was still heavily grounded on DOS.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wosniack were working out of the parents garage creating the Apple computer and operating system.  But they refused to license it and keep everything to them selves.  That is even more harrowed path and very much part of the history books too.  Back in those days I would sit up night after night figuring out how all this hardware worked then came the software.  My first computer was a Commodore 64, which I ended up giving to my sisters son, Paul, in New Zealand, he went on to for what is now one of the largest software and web design companies in the Oceana.  But back to the my experience with the Apple computer my first foray into that land was the Apple 2C.  It had a yellow screen and was very clumsy but it worked but I just could not get on with the OS and not getting behind the screen to the guts of the OS to make adjustments.

I was fresh out of Rock & Roll and had no idea what I was going to do next and I had somehow become friends with a guy who lived way out on the North side of San Fernando Valley, I was living in Hollywood.  I have no idea how or where we met but we became friends and computer buddies.  We would go to the then computer show at Pomona Fairgrounds as often as it was held, every month I think!  Anyway; we would bargain with the sellers and we both saw a huge swing from American sellers to Asian.  What did that mean?  Easy the American sellers would be working on a 400-500% markup while the Asian sellers only wanted a 3-5% markup.  They had a different business model, US worked on high profit over sales volume, while the Asians worked on volume.  Is you see the entire business market in the US today it is solely modeled on volume sales.  I soon learned how to build and sell bargain computers to small law firms and medical facilities on the West Side of Los Angeles.  I very quickly had an awakening, the hardware was no good with out software to run on the hardware.  I had to learn how to install Novell and Microsoft Server software which also led to having to customize the installations to fit the business.  There was very little software around back then and most ran on the DOS platform, this was mid 80 and there wasn't any Windows YET!

During this time I had started to look hard at my future and was it in  hardware of software?  I knew that if I wanted to be in hardware that there had to be an investment as I would have to get some sort of storage for the volume of hardware and it became apparent to me that the hardware was huge and that where one card would work in one slot it wouldn't on the next so there was a lot of redundancy which meant I would have to sell everything fast before it was out of date.  So I took the path of least invest meant of money... SOFTWARE.

This was all happening in the mid 80's (around 1983-5) and I rapidly learned DOS which also meant ANSI and how to store data in text files.  That led to Ashton Tate's DBase II, now there is a success store, that faded away into oblivion.

The History of Ashton & Tate Software:

It was never a company of two people, Ashton was Tate's parrot!  Yeah go figure, he had this business sense that a company with a single name wouldn't make it as well as one with two people at the helm.  That part worked really well, the next part of the story was pure genius.  He figured that business would not buy into a software product if it was on it's first iteration, most people then distrusted first editions as they were buggy but the second edition would be less buggy an have more features.  So Tate had this genius move to call his first release dBase II (implying that it was the second version and was bug free and rich with features).  A masterful stroke that immediately launched him to the top of the pile.  There wasn't many competitors back then anyway, there was Corel's Paradox this was the first application that used the mouse and had a real graphic interface not a text base one.  Microsoft was working on a DOS version of Access, which was never released at the same time Microsoft did release FoxPro onto the market as a DOS based program.  There was one other big player in the Database field but I do not remember their name at present.

dBase was the first company I saw that used a strange combination of upper and lower case mixes in it's name.  Today it is a standard of every industry to play with the case of the letters in their name or product.

Ashton & Tate dBase III was when the company was sold to Borland.  Borland was a large company who was gobbling up smaller companies like crazy.  Unfortunately Borland and all its company's are all just about gone.

My foray into dBase

DBase II became my platform of choice.  It was very close to the ASCI language and the data structure was not difficult to figure out.  My brain was working at full speed and I was developing programs like crazy.  I had a friend back then who was very much into supporting the disabled and their causes.  I wrote a software program for her that would help manage the disAbilities for her.  She asked if I would mind if she presented it to some others and the next thing I new I was being presented with an award from John's Hopkins university for my software and it's contribution to the disAbilities services.  I was very pleased and proud of that piece of software.  The second version of dBase was of course dBase III which was a huge success for Ashton & Tate and sold more copies than any other database software at the time.

dBase code

A bit about VB

Visual Basic Logo

Visual Basic started off its life as a side kick to MS Access.  They were being developed side by side.  I was fortunate enough to have made some good contacts at Microsoft in Santa Monica.

My Introduction to Visual Basic:

I was an avid dBase III programmer at the time who wrote some Basic and ASCII programs for fun.  But I saw the business future being in dBase... then late one night I got a call from my friend and programming guru, Garry Hoffer. He was working for Trans America in downtown LA as a C programmer at the time and when he called he was more excited than I had heard him in years.  He told me he had just been given a 5 1/4in floppy disk with a program under development by Microsoft called "Visual Basic".  He said it was not for him but knowing that I had been searching for a true Windows language and not just s shell environment that I would love this program too.  So in the wee hours of some morning he cage straight over and I installed Visual Basic 1.0 onto my machine.  WOW! Was I surprised when I opened the program and the first thing I saw was a graphic not text interface to ode in.

By the time the Sun cam up a few hours later I had not only written my first application in VB but de-bugged it and had it working!

By the time Microsoft decided to drop Visual Basic as a language en development environment there was estimated to be over 9 million programmers using it daily.

VB Code

T-SQL's past


T-SQL was not originally a Microsoft product but actually owned by Sybase and licensed to Microsoft but with huge restrictions on what Microsoft could and could not do to it.  Basically until version 6.0 the two were hard to tell apart, MS did have a slightly better interface but they both had the exact same functionality.  Then Microsoft licensing agreement had ended and it now owned the source code and they could do anything they want with it.  It was not long before MS-SQL came out with version 6.5 and it was s huge advancement over the weak 6.

Since that time Microsoft has not looked back and has been the leader in the world of Client Server database environment.  They also continue to make forays into other data areas like mass image storage, financials, etc.

Not forgetting their past and kind of roots in MS-Access which is still alive and strong today.  Access is the perfect tool for small business without sending a fortune like T-SQWL would.

SQL Code


HTML logoHTML Penguin

"Hyper Text Markup Language" or HTML as it is commonly known is a language that was created by the W3C.  The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards.  With HTML you can create your own Web site.

An extended version of HTML is XHTML that offers the programmer more tags and ability to create new and better objects.


C# Code

C# is an extension of advanced version of VB as some may call it but I always thought of it as a brand new language. With it you could create applications that could be compiled into just about any format. It is a full featured and rich language that has little or no boundaries. It is a language for creating business layer code. Some people called this the middle layer that contained all the actual functionality that needed to be performed.

For example the user interface might be written HTML with the database or back end created using SQL leaving all the functionality to be managed by the middle of business layer written in C#.


more to come...

Created by Phillip Seaman
Modified 11/3/2015