Turbo Pascal

Turbo Pascal 4, when it came out in 1987, was a miracule. Its Integrated Development Environment (with a Text User Interface) was the pre-cursor to all modern day IDEs. There was only one word to describe its compilation speed - blazing. It brought Object Orientation into the main stream. It was the de facto standard for Pascal, much more than UCSD Pascal, despite its non-standard extensions to the language. It showed a glimpse of things to come - Rapid Application Development (Borland Pascal), Database driven applications (Delphi). It set new standards for others to follow - Microsoft responded with its QuickPascal, QuickBasic but could not match the popularity of Turbo Pascal and Turbo C. It is sad that it lost the race to Visual Basic, Visual C etc. But it taught me a whole new jargon from computer science - pointers, lists, dynamic memory allocation, classes, inheritance.

But the most amazing feature, by far, was the BGI (Borland Graphics Interface) with its graphics library that could do screen graphics on a 386 PC with a VGA monitor. It was unbelievable. Its text handling functions were something that Fortran didn't have. Its functions to access system operations such as accessing information about files on disk, date and time showed what Fortran was lacking because of its focus on numerical computations. Even a numerical oriented application would need to use some of these operations and they were missing in Fortran.

I learnt a great deal about modular programs from its Units. Borland's user guides were clear and concise and Tom Swan's book on Turbo Pascal 4 was so lucidly written that I was surprised to learn that he studied Journalism and not computer science.