It was originally created for UNIX platforms in 1987. In 1988, SQL Server for OS/2 was codeveloped for the PC by Sybase, Microsoft, and Ashton-Tate. Ashton-Tate divested its interest and Microsoft became the lead partner after porting SQL Server to Windows NT.
Microsoft and Sybase sold and supported the product through version 4.21. In 1993 the codevelopment licensing agreement between Microsoft and Sybase ended and the companies parted ways while continuing to develop their respective versions of the database management system.
In 1995, Sybase released SQL Server 11.0. Thereafter, it decided to better differentiate its product from Microsoft SQL Server by renaming it to Adaptive Server Enterprise in versions 11.5 and beyond.
Sybase provides native low-level programming interfaces to its database server which uses a protocol called Tabular Data Stream. Prior to version 10, DBLIB (DataBase LIBrary) was used. Version 10 and onwards uses, CTLIB (Client LIBrary).
Sybase is the leading mobile database vendor. “DUBLIN, Calif. – January 23, 2007 - In a recent report, IDC recognized Sybase iAnywhere as a worldwide leading provider of mobile middleware. The report, Worldwide Mobile Middleware 2006-2010 Forecast and 2005 Vendor Shares (IDC #204829, December 2006), measured iAnywhere's higher revenues and market share-results that placed the company ahead of competitors.” Sybase's mobile products include SQL Anywhere, Afaria, and OneBridge.
ASE was called Sybase SQL Server up until version 11.5 released 1996 when it was renamed to differentiate itself with the increasingly successful Microsoft SQL Server product. In 1998, ASE 11.9.2 was rolled out with support for row-level locking and distributed joins and improved SMP performance. ASE 12.0 was released in 1999 providing support for Java, high availability and distributed transaction management. In 2001, ASE 12.5 was released providing features such as dynamic memory allocation and support for XML and SSL among others. Support of an EJB container within the database server along with efficient in-memory connections to the database engine, suggests an object oriented access to the relational data.
In September 2005, Sybase released ASE 15. It includes a rewritten query optimizer that is supposed to increase performance over the traditional optimizer, and support for partitioning table rows in a database across individual disk devices to reduce contention and increase the speed at which the data can be accessed, and "virtual columns" which are computed only when required. Other changes that didn't make it to the initial release but are expected soon are support for column-level encryption, and the ability to mount a database dump as a "virtual database" and extract only the information required. See the online documentation for more details.