Paradox is a relational database management system currently published by Corel Corporation. It was originally released for DOS by Ansa Software, but a Windows version was released by Borland in 1992.
Paradox/DOS was a successful DOS-based database of the late eighties and early nineties. At that time, dBase and its xBase clones (Foxpro, Clipper programming language) dominated the market. Other notable competitors were Clarion, DataEase, , and Dataflex.
The features that distinguished Paradox/DOS were:
For approximately the first year of development the object-oriented code was written in C aided by macros, until Turbo C++ was available at which point the remaining parts of the code were written in C++. The product manager up until shipping version 1.0 was Joe Duncan. The development and QA team totaled about 30 people.
Both Paradox for Windows and Quattro Pro for Windows, a closely related project, started development using beta versions of Windows 3.0, in the spring of 1990. Paradox/Windows ended up delayed about a year beyond its original plan, shipping in early 1993. The reasons were many, but not entirely surprising for a major rewrite, in OO language with new tools, shifting to a GUI paradigm, on what was essentially a first version operating system. Still it was a big problem for the company and Microsoft managed to ship Access a couple of months ahead of Paradox for Windows, a major marketing win to Microsoft.
In 1990 Borland also started work on an internal dBASE clone for both DOS and Windows, written in assembler, which was planned to ship in 1992. By early 1992 it became clear that Ashton-Tate was in difficulties on developing Windows versions of their products and so Borland switched plans, instead acquiring the company and anointing their internal project as the official successor. Part of the Ashton-Tate acquisition was the Interbase database and it was decided that Paradox/W should be able to work with Interbase as well as the Paradox engine and this led to the creation of an IDAPI engine based around Interbase.
The acquisition also shifted focus. Paradox had historically competed against dBASE in some markets, and Paradox/W originally was designed to improve the competitive position in the developer-oriented market. After dBASE was acquired this was no longer desirable and emphasis shifted towards an ease-of-use market. However the product could not be changed to match the emphasis (this occurred in later releases) at that late stage, making the product somewhat over complex for the entry level market. Access did a good job of addressing that same market and got there first, by Christmas 1992. Still, Paradox/W sold well for a while. Meanwhile, Borland was going through some serious problems caused by the Ashton-Tate acquisition. Many product lines were discontinued, corporate reorganization and consolidation was painful, and even worse the internal dBASE project at the center of the acquisition rationale was eventually cancelled for technical reasons leaving Borland with a collapse in revenues and a serious need to develop the missing dBASE for Windows in a hurry. Borland had lost the strength to fight the multiple marketing battles it needed for its range of products. Paradox was minimally marketed to the developers since the company decided it would hold out for a replacement of dBASE, which eventually came out in 1994, too late for the company.
Microsoft Access was sold for a fraction of the price of Paradox/Windows and bundled with Word, Excel and PowerPoint in Microsoft Office Professional. Furthermore, Access performance was good thanks to team contributions from FoxPro programmers. Despite solid follow-on versions with improvements to usability for entry-level users, Paradox faded from the market. It was included in the sale of Borland products to Word Perfect, which were in turn resold as Word Perfect got into financial products, and at the current time of writing Paradox for Windows, Word Perfect and Quattro Pro for Windows are all owned by Corel and sold as part of their office suite. dBASE for Windows came out too late to be a significant player in the Windows market, most dBASE programmers by then had migrated to Microsoft FoxBase, a very similar database tool. Borland itself retained the Interbase/IDAPI server and focussed efforts on its Delphi tools which over the years gave it an influential but small part of the data-oriented developer market.
Although there are many fans of ObjectPAL, the programming language for Paradox/Windows, PAL/DOS scripts could not easily be migrated; the object and event models were completely different forcing developers using PAL to completely rewrite their database applications.
2. The VCPI reference above should only relate to Paradox DOS versions 3.5 and earlier, none of which will run properly under any version of Windows. Paradox DOS 4.0 and 4.5 run fine under all versions of Windows except Win2000, which causes a choice of two uncorrectable abort failures.