|By Chris Pollach||
|June 24, 2008 04:15 PM EDT||
I have been asked many times by various clients, students, and the IT curious about PowerBuilder: When did Sybase develop the product and how did it evolve? I keep telling this story and answering e-mails on the subject. I am now to the point where I have decided that I should have PBDJ formally publish this story for posterity. This story is solely from my own personal perspective and I'm sure that I may have a somewhat distorted view of time and space (which keeps getting worse at my age). But anyway, here is a perspective of how life (as a DataWindow) began.
Episode I - The Phantom Product
In a galaxy, far, far away... before Sybase... PowerBuilder was developed as a prototype by Cullinet Database Systems of Boston. Cullinet was the developer of the IDMS DBMS and ADS-Online (Application Development System). IDMS was originally developed by BF Goodrich, the tire company, in London, Ontario, Canada, and sold to Cullinane (that later changed their name to Cullinet) located in Boston, Massachusetts. They had an early PC product called "Golden Gate," which proved that you could do GUI client/server application development with mainframe DBMSs. Originally DOS based, Golden Gate was then converted to run under MS Windows. Cullinet also realized that PC-based DBMSs and development tools were on the immediate horizon (1984). Cullinet had an enormous success with ADS-Online (327x-based RAD development tool) and wanted to see if a similar GUI-based tool could be developed. The main features of ADSO included RAD; real-time design, programming, compiling, and debugging; and interactive prototyping. It also used a centralized Data Dictionary, interfaced with various CASE tools, and could deploy to production from development.
In 1984, when I was the technical support manager for Cullinet Canada, Cullinet started their Personal Computer ADSO prototype, which would later become PowerBuilder. The project leader was Dave Litwack, who was in charge of the ADSO product and IDMS-DC (data communications - teleprocessing system and CICS equivalent product). Dave had a great understanding of RAD development tools and telecommunications because of his Cullinet experience. The new product was to have the same key functionality as ADSO (interesting that ORCA was basically working in 1985 in the PowerBuilder prototype because ADSO/IDMS had it), but also added a real key feature: "a smart data aware object." At that time Cullinet was experimenting with a feature called LRF (Logical Record Facility) and DB stored procedures. This object would encapsulate data handling away from the application, but would be a client piece, so there was no dependency on any DBMS.
For the first part of the prototype, Dave chose a real keen "C" programmer named Kim Sheffield. John Griffin - a friend of mine from Ottawa, Ontario - was also recruited by Dave. John was an excellent mainframe assembler programmer and wanted to cross over to C. Dave had him build the "Menu" painter. In later years, John married Julie, another Cullinet developer, and she would help rewrite the Menu Painter and add Remote Debugging to PB for EAServer.
Dave also wanted to have the new tool that was fully OO - object oriented. The C++ language was coming on strong and SmallTalk was the "talk of the town" for serious OO programmers. Dave wanted PowerBuilder to adopt the SmallTalk OO principles but make it easy for the business developer to use.
In 1985 a crude prototype was shown to the Cullinet inside circle. The product's potential was immediately expounded by senior management (one of those being Bobby Orr - the hockey legend [another good story I can tell you sometime] - who was on the board of directors of Cullinet at that time). Unfortunately, Cullinet had serious challenges for various takeover bids by different companies, including CA (Computer Associates). CA at that time had already purchased DataCom and wanted Cullinet for IDMS. CA's mentality then was to buy out the competition, sell off any non-key products, and milk the maintenance contracts of key clients. With little or no development personnel (fired), there was no overhead and all profit. In 1986, CA was successful on a hostile takeover of Cullinet. The new PC product was considered non-essential and all developers were let go (that is why today I will never buy a CA product)!
Episode II - The Little Droid that Could
In 1986, PowerSoft was developing business applications for the VAX platform. PowerSoft also realized the PC development arena was about to explode and started looking around for a leading-edge GUI development tool. They hired an independent consultant, Dave Litwack, to help advise them on exactly what they should be looking for. At that time, Gupta's SQLWindows was the only serious product. Other than that you had to get down and code "C," which was not what PowerSoft wanted business programmers to use. Dave mentioned his involvement with Cullinet and their last prototyping effort. PowerSoft approached CA and asked if they could acquire the prototype code (originally done in C). CA said that they had looked at the PB prototype and that they concluded that there was no future in it (duh) - so give us a few bucks for the code and good luck with it!
In 1988, three years after the original concept prototype, PowerSoft had the code and Dave (now hired by PowerSoft) was able to hire the other programmers who worked on the original prototype (what a fluke) as they were looking for some challenging work at that time as well. PowerSoft then christened the new product "PowerBuilder" and began to enhance the code. Since they were a business solutions developer, they used PowerBuilder internally to recode and replace their VAX products. Testing was "hands-on" and very intensive under real-world developer scenarios. To get funding for this intense effort, PowerSoft partnered with HP. HP gave them a blank check after seeing a demonstration (they are also responsible for the Tilde "O" format [~Onn] for "octal" as HP was an 8-bit machine in those days). PowerBuilder became an internal standard at HP.
At Microsoft's Redmond office, the people in charge of internal systems were faced with the same problems PowerSoft was trying to resolve - they needed a tool for business developers. They contacted their friends at HP and were told that PowerBuilder was the only up-and-coming tool they should look at. In early 1989, Microsoft purchased licenses for PB and was the second worldwide user. The "Royal Australian Air Force" was the first official user - makes me proud as I'm an Australian from Cooma, NSW.
When I was four years old my dad took me to the University of Sydney where he was using the SILLIAC I (Sydney version of the Illinois Automatic Computer) - the first commercial computer ever built (http://members.iinet.net.au/~dgreen/silliac.html) to do the stress and strain calculations on the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric power dams (largest hydro generation in the world even today: www.snowyhydro.com.au ), which is where I met the first "debugger" in the world ... but that's another story. The Snowy Hydro is still an active PowerBuilder site even today. Even Microsoft used PowerBuilder for their Inventory Management System, MS University Scheduling System, etc., and was "blown" away with its data prowess - especially this new object called the "DataWindow" (thanks Kim).
Episode III - The "Force"
In 1989 I was doing a project for the Canadian government on behalf of Revenue Canada and Treasury Board. My task was to evaluate emerging RDBMS technology and propose the top three to be recommended to all government departments. I completed that in the late summer of 1989. One of the contenders was Microsoft's SQLServer (which was a port of the release 4.x version of Sybase's SQLServer to the OS/2 platform). To verify the final benchmark results, I had a representative from each DBMS vendor drop in and tweak their environments and concur with my approach and results.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Harbinger Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Harbinger Systems is a global company providing software technology services. Since 1990, Harbinger has developed a strong customer base worldwide. Its customers include software product companies ranging from hi-tech start-ups in Silicon Valley to leading product companies in the US and large in-house IT organizations.
Oct. 30, 2014 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,143
SYS-CON Events announces a new pavilion on the Cloud Expo floor where WebRTC converges with the Internet of Things. Pavilion will showcase WebRTC and the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices--computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
Oct. 30, 2014 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,165
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...
Oct. 30, 2014 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,174
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridsto...
Oct. 30, 2014 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,534
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
Oct. 30, 2014 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,058
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP’s Printing and Personal Systems Group, will discuss how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, senso...
Oct. 30, 2014 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,705
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
Oct. 30, 2014 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,160
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics...
Oct. 30, 2014 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,549
Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
Oct. 30, 2014 07:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,252
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., will show what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He will discuss opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and tec...
Oct. 29, 2014 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,509
SYS-CON Events announced today that TeleStax, the main sponsor of Mobicents, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TeleStax provides Open Source Communications software and services that facilitate the shift from legacy SS7 based IN networks to IP based LTE and IMS networks hosted on private (on-premise), hybrid or public clouds. TeleStax products include Restcomm, JSLEE, SMSC Gateway, USSD Gateway, SS7 Resource Adaptors, SIP Servlets, Rich Multimedia Services, Presence Services/RCS, Diame...
Oct. 29, 2014 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,614
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
Oct. 29, 2014 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,056
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An...
Oct. 29, 2014 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,578
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
Oct. 29, 2014 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,109
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
Oct. 29, 2014 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,045
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
Oct. 29, 2014 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,072
As a disruptive technology, Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC), which is an emerging standard of web communications, is redefining how brands and consumers communicate in real time. The on-going narrative around WebRTC has largely been around incorporating video, audio and chat functions to apps. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Alex Gouaillard, Founder and CTO of Temasys Communications, will look at a fourth element – data channels – and talk about its potential to move WebRTC beyond browsers and into the Internet of Things.
Oct. 29, 2014 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,624
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gigaom Research has been named "Media Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, will also lead a Power Panel on the topic "Choosing the Right Cloud Option." Gigaom Research provides timely, in-depth analysis of emerging technologies for individual and corporate subscribers. Gigaom Research's network of 200+ independent analysts provides new content daily that bridges the gap between break...
Oct. 28, 2014 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,651
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Oct. 28, 2014 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,597
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
Oct. 28, 2014 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,945