Home > news > Borland sold to Micro Focus

Borland sold to Micro Focus

Yes, another software company has gone bust, this time it’s Borland Software Corporation.  They are to be acquired by Micro Focus International for $1 per share which brings the transaction to approximately $75 million.  Borland announced it at their website last May 6, 2009.

I knew some of Borland’s products well… very well because I made my first computer programs in their Turbo Pascal product.

When I went to college, I never even touched a computer keyboard yet, but I am intrigued by the concept of being able to “command” a computer to do what you want it to.  The profession wasn’t known then in our place but I knew I want to become a computer programmer.

My first meeting with a computer was with a blue background with colorful text, remember this?

Turbo Pascal 5.5
Turbo Pascal 5.5 IDE
(picture credit: http://adi_oltean.members.winisp.net/images/tp55/tp55.png)

I was very excited that I even opened turbo.exe in the IDE and started editing it, now I am programming! ;)  The rest, they say, is history.

Borland was founded in 1983 and is now based in Austin, Texas.  Their most notable products then were Turbo Pascal and SideKick – one of my all-time DOS favorites.

SideKickSideKick
(picture credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sidekick1984.png)

Here are some of Borland’s popular products (in my opinion):

  • Turbo Pascal – a compiler and IDE for the Pascal programming language
  • SideKick –  a personal information manager DOS application
  • Turbo C – a compiler and IDE for the C programming language
  • Turbo C++ * – a compiler and IDE for the C++ programming language
  • Quattro Pro – a spreadsheet application
  • dBase – a database management system for DOS
  • Interbase – * a relational database (open-sourced since 2000)
  • Delphi * – a graphical rapid-applications-development (RAD) environment

Products with a star (*) are no longer actively supported by Borland and has been packaged with other software and sold as CodeGear to Embarcadero Technologies.

During the early 90′s, the pre-Internet era, desktop applications are the “in-thing”.  Borland was then considered as the heavyweight of programming languages companies.  Computer students, teachers, and enthusiasts wanted to become “Turbo” experts, a term which was closely associated with Borland and its products.

With the advent of graphical user interfaces starting with Windows 95, Turbo Pascal faded away.  Borland again became popular with their release of Delphi and C++ Builder but did not stand a chance with other RAD environments such as Microsoft’s Visual Basic and its community.  With the release of the .NET technologies, Borland just got deeper into the pit.

Why do I say so?  Because back in 2000, out of 20 good programmers I knew, only 1 programmer knows Delphi.  The rest are Visual Basic programmers.  Another possible cause is that Anders Hejlsberg, the chief architect of Delphi, moved to Microsoft in 1996 to lead the development of C#, now one of the powerful programming languages for the .NET platform.  It’s also very obvious in the Internet community and the various articles, books and references you could find in bookstores where Visual Basic dominates Delphi in numbers.

Don’t get me wrong here.  Borland’s products are very good.  Their problems must have something to do with marketing, support, and other business areas that has nothing to do with the product’s features.

Delphi 2009 ScreenshotDelphi 2009 Screenshot
(picture credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/37/Delphi_2009_Screenshot.jpg)

With this acquisition, I assume a lot of developers of the Borland products would now think of jumping ship.  I haven’t heard of Micro Focus as a software development company but they have been around since 1976 and has similar business goals to Borland: “Micro Focus Products are used for both the development and deployment of applications.”. We just have to wait and see how they plan to turn Borland around.

As a previous “Turbo” user however, I could just ponder an analogy why Borland lost it’s battle with Microsoft in the programming languages and IDE wars.  Just like in a race, you press the Turbo button for that last resort to win the competition.  And maybe that’s why Borland named their products “Turbo”, because that means it’s gonna be their last resort before folding up.  Just my 2 cents here. :)

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Author: Cyril Pauya Categories: news Tags:
  1. May 13th, 2009 at 12:39 | #1

    Almost every programmer past their 20s have created their first programs using a Borland product. Turbo C was the first language I learned with the “Hello World!” as my first output. I was then gradually taught C++, ASM, HTML and Visual Basic.

    Later, when I taught part-time at NDMC, I was given the Pascal subject. I have not encountered it yet but since the programming concept is just similar with C and C++, I did not have a hard time studying and teaching it. It was my stepping stone to my students before I taught them Visual Basic.

    Borland might already be bought by another company but I think it’s a good thing. They really can’t stand on their own. Maybe Micro Focus, with creative and aggressive ideas will help them to at least go back to the top 3 of the programming market where they once belong.

  2. May 18th, 2009 at 20:58 | #2

    I’ve really enjoyed playing around with Borland product specifically Turbo C and C++ but when VB arrived to us in college, I didn’t bother myself learning more about it. Btw, my first database application experience was also Borland product which is dBase.

    I could have learned to use other Borland products like Delphi if they became popular back then when RAD started.

    Also, i noticed that your latest posts are sold IT products. I guess recession in US is taking that long that’s why. =)

  3. May 23rd, 2009 at 12:08 | #3

    @ark
    Such is history, another company buys a dying company in the hopes of turning it, or its products, back to its limelight. Micro Focus may have forgotten that Borland became a giant company because of the programming softwares it built. Now that most of it are sold to Embarcadero Technologies, I guess Micro Focus just bought Borland for its customer base and whatever “enterprise” value that it has left.

  4. May 23rd, 2009 at 12:15 | #4

    @ianemv
    Delphi became popular as the RAD for Pascal while VB is the RAD for BASIC. They each had their followers, but Microsoft is more aggressive in their marketing. Plus, MS made good leverage of its operating system Windows. I tried using Delphi and felt right at home with the Turbo Pascal “RAD/GUI/drag-drop” equivalent. It was just not that beneficial because there are not many jobs that require Delphi.

    Yes, I have become interested with companies that have gone down from their limelight. It’s good to know what these companies have done to go up and then eventually down.

    Recesssion in the US is that bad, that’s why we Asians have better chance of getting a remote job now than before. ;)

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