Thursday, December 14, 2006

Visual Basic for MS-DOS is a Killer App of All Time?

Peter Coffee's "25 Killer Apps of All Times" December 14, 2006 slideshow for eWeek carries this deck:

Microsoft's Vista has widely inspired the "Why do I need that?" question, which past "killer applications" have answered in different ways for different platforms during three decades of personal computing.
Here's Peter's "Visual Basic 1991" slide that caused a double-take:

The screen capture is Visual Basic for MS-DOS (codenamed "Escher"), not Visual Basic for Windows 1.0 (or Visual Basic for OS/2, either). The ACM has a Microsoft Guide to Visual Basic for MS-DOS (ISBN 1-55615-478-X, 1993) in its archive, and the PhatCode site has more screen captures and the original executable. SAMS Publishing offered a Visual Basic for DOS Developer's Guide, which I believe was a non-starter.

Note: The original VB for Windows 1.0 manual, as I recall, had "Version 1.0 for Windows and OS/2" on the cover. As the slide states, Microsoft didn't release the OS/2 version. Peter's blog item for the presentation is here. His comment on this item is here.

I was an Escher beta tester and recall being underwhelmed by the final product, which Microsoft released in September 1992. At the time, I was working with the "Rawhide" Professional Extensions for VB 1.0, and writing my first book, Using Visual Basic, for Que Publishing. The full story is in "An (Almost) Lifetime of BASIC."