Early days of Clipper

Notes on early days of Clipper

Some quotations :

Clipper was originally built in 1985 as a compiler for dBASE III.

Clipper was built by Nantucket Corporation led by Barry ReBell (management) and Brian Russell (technical), and  later sold to …

Source

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Brett Oliver, Jim Warner, Brian Russell, Richard McConnell …

Main architects and primary developers of Clipper and founders of Nantucket Corporation. It was 1984 when
Clipper was born.

Source

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Clipper Summer’87 Manual, “Credits” page :

ClpSum87Credits

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Clipper 5.0 Manual, “Credits” page :

Clp5.0Credits

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… and 30 years after birth of this phenomenal myth, one (or first) of main builders suddenly appeared : Brett Oliver !

By a comment to one page of this blog :

Not only main starter / builder of Clipper, he is also author of wonderful books :

Clipper Programming: An In-Depth Introduction to Programming

This book also is a myth.

And he told me on request, something on beginning and building story of this great myth;

Brian was working at Ashton-Tate, as was I.

I was in tech support, alongside Brian, and customers that were phoning in kept asking for a compiler.

So I approached Barry for the money to back it. He had a temp agency. I met him in the Ashton-Tate cafeteria.

I recruited Brian at lunch at a Japanese restaurant in Culver city.

Clipper was the first program Brian had written in ‘C’.

He learned C as he programmed Clipper.

I asked him when I was recruiting him if he had ever written a compiler.

He said he had written a Pascal compiler in university. (He later admitted that it had never worked!).

The first development office was a beach house in Malibu.

Tom Rettig was the editor for dNEWS at Ashton-Tate. I took over as editor of dNEWS.

I was the first VP of sales, and one of my employees was Mary Beth. I introduced her to Brian and later they married.

At the first Comdex in Vegas, Brian was upstairs in his room – coding.

He got one command to work – paint a dot on the screen. We demonstrated that one command, and showed that we could draw a box 20 times faster than dBASE.

I wrote a couple of books on Clipper, and was also on the dBASE for Windows development team at Borland. 

I worked with Tom at his condo in Santa Monica for a time. Too bad he died.

Barry died in 2009.

Brian and I went dirt biking together. He loaned me his street bike for a couple of months when my car was getting fixed. He is a good guy. I think he is working in LA.

We live in San Diego, – my wife is from Liechtenstein. We have three boys.

I am Scottish. Currently programming in eCommerce.

Anyway, nice chatting.

Stay in touch.

I wish he will write more …

Milestones


Neither possible to know nor remember everybody who participated this great work.

These are only the biggest milestones, great men who succeed great jobs.

C. Wayne Ratliff

Designed and programmed the first successful DBMS for personal computers, dBASE II; originally named Vulcan. Renamed dBASE II and published in 1981.  It was not only a relational database management system (RDBMS), but also was an interpreted language and would quickly spawn the “xBbase” industry.

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Brett Oliver, Jim Warner, Brian Russell, Richard McConnell  …

Main architects and primary developers of Clipper and founders of Nantucket Corporation.  It was 1984 when Clipper was born. Look at here for a tale.

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Tom Rettig  ( 1941-1996 )

A major guru in the dBASE, Clipper, whole xBase community. 

Small in stature, but big in heart, a friend in the truest sense. 

More about Tom Rettig.

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Antonio Linares

Initiator and one of main developers of Harbour.

The starter of Harbour.

The great man who started the big engines!

He is here.

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Phil Barnett

The biggest Clipper fan! 

Author of most useful Clipper utilities,  Harbour Manager, keeper of pieces and parts for years.

He and his famous and largest Clipper repository is here (archive)

Addendum:

A “last” note about Phil.

R.I.P.

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(Le Roy) Roberto Lopez

Founder, builder and developer of HMG, Harbour MiniGUI. 

The great man who disclose blocked doors and roads!

He is here.

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Viktor Szakáts,  Przemysław Czerpak, Pritpal Bedi, …

Today Habour development is leading by Viktor Szakáts with huge collaborations and leading many components of core and contribs by Przemysław Czerpak. Some components are developed by Pritpal Bedi. Others members participate the project by sending changes to the Sourceforge SVN repository.  As 2011 Harbour development is keeping vibrant activity

They are here.

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What is Clipper ?

As a computer software term, the word “Clipper” has two meaning :

1- A programming language

2- A compiler

As a computer programming language that is used to build software programs that originally operated primarily under DOS. Although it is a powerful general-purpose programming language, it was primarily used to construct  database/business programs.

Clipper was originally released in 1985 as a compiler for dBASE III, a very popular database language at the time. Compiling dBASE code changes it from interpreted code, which must be interpreted every time each line of code is executed, to p-code, which uses a Virtual Machine to process the compiled p-code. p-code is considerably faster, but still not as fast as the machine code generated by native compilers. As a technical marketing ploy, the p-code was wrapped into object code (linkable .obj files) which gave the impression that it was compiled to native code. Clipper was created by Nantucket Corporation led by Barry ReBell (political) and Brian Russell (technical), and later sold to Computer AssociatesGrafX Software licensed CA-Clipper in 2002 from CA for ongoing marketing and distribution.

As the product matured, it remained a DOS tool for many years, but added elements of the C programming language and Pascal programming language, as well as OOP, and the code-block data-type (hybridizing the concepts of dBase macros, or string-evaluation, and function pointers), to become far more powerful than the original. Nantucket’s Aspen project later matured into the Windows native-code Visual Objects compiler.

After “swallow” Nantucket at 1992, CA published a few releases of Clipper Compiler, lastly 5.3a at  May 20, 1997. But most of Clipper programmer uses preferably 5.2e – released February 7, 1995.

Although remained a DOS as the compiler, Clipper continues to live as the programming language.

The Clipper language is being actively implemented and extended by multiple organizations/vendors, like xBase ++ from Alaska Software and FlagShip, as well as free(GPL-licensed) projects like Harbour and xHarbour.

Many of the current implementations are portable (DOSWindowsLinux (32- and 64-bit), Unix (32- and 64-bit), and Mac OS X), supporting many language extensions[1], and have greatly extended runtime libraries, as well as various Replaceable Database Drivers (RDD) supporting many popular database formats, like DBF, DBTNTX, DBFCDX (FoxPro, Apollo and Comix), MachSix (SIx Driver and Apollo), SQL, and more. These newer implementations all strive for full compatibility with the standard dBase/xBase syntax, while also offering OOP approaches and target-based syntax such as SQLExecute().

Version history

The various versions of Clipper compiler were:

From Nantucket Corporation; the “seasonal versions”, billed as “dBase compilers

  • Nantucket Clipper Winter’84 – released May 25, 1985
  • Nantucket Clipper Summer’85 – released 1985
  • Nantucket Clipper Winter’85 – released January 29, 1986
  • Nantucket Clipper Autumn’86 – released October 31, 1986
  • Nantucket Clipper Summer’87 – released December 21, 1987

From Nantucket Corporation; Clipper 5

  • Nantucket Clipper 5.00 – released 1990
  • Nantucket Clipper 5.01 – released April 15, 1991
  • Nantucket Clipper 5.01 Rev.129 – released March 31, 1992

and from Computer Associates; CA-Clipper 5

  • CA Clipper 5.01a –
  • CA Clipper 5.20 – released February 15, 1993
  • CA-Clipper 5.2a – released March 15, 1993
  • CA Clipper 5.2b – released June 25, 1993
  • CA-Clipper 5.2c – released August 6, 1993
  • CA Clipper 5.2d – released March 25, 1994
  • CA-Clipper 5.2e – released February 7, 1995
  • CA Clipper 5.30 – released June 26, 1995
  • CA Clipper 5.3a – released May 20, 1996
  • CA Clipper 5.3b – released May 20, 1997

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Note: This post is based upon mainly a Wikipedia article :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clipper_(programming_language)