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Software Engineer

RapidFile, Released by Ashton-Tate in 1987

It is frustrating to a developer when a product he developed is discontinued. The following discussion appeared in Ashton-Tate's 3/87 issue of TechNotes:

The original reference of this article comes from here: Original link

Ashton-Tate has recently released RapidFile, a data management package for the IBM PC. This is noteworthy because it's a major product from a major vendor and was written in Forth. The following is excerpted from Ashton-Tate's 3/87 issue of TechNotes:
TechNotes: Why is RapidFile written in FORTH?

Mark McDonough (developer): I'll tell you the story. When I told my professors that I wanted to implement the QBE [IBM's Query By Example] concept on a PC, I was told it was not possible. Knowing that it couldn't be done, I went out to find a genius that would know how to push the PC to its limits. I found that genius in Tom Dowling [of Miller Microsystems].

Tom claimed, and has since proven time and again, that FORTH was as easy to program in as other high level languages and that its programs run almost as fast as assembler programs. FORTH programs also compile into a very small space. We could not have fit RapidFile onto one disk and in 256K of RAM if it were written in C.

TN: We understand that the flexibility of FORTH really came in handy when designing RapidFile.

Steve Allin (product manager): Yes, FORTH is very tailorable. It allowed us to make substantial changes to the design. It is very close to being a prototyping language where you can make major changes much more easily than in standard programming languages, which would have required substantial rewrites. RapidFile went through several versions before its release and it couldn't have gone through all that if it hadn't been written in FORTH.

MM: Having gone through two publishers before arriving at Ashton-Tate, RapidFile began to resemble a sprawling Victorian mansion built with several competing designs. Steve took RapidFile's "rooms" and rearranged them into a unified whole. We couldn't have done that kind of rearranging without FORTH. We were also able to do all that with only three programmers: Tom Dowling for the major database work, Bent Schmidt-Nielsen for the word processor and system issues, and Dave Fristrom of Eastgate Systems for the interface programming. By using FORTH, we were able to rearrange RapidFile until it was just the way we wanted it.

At the time of the release of RapidFile, my company name was (believe it or not):

Cybertronix Corp.

5 Eastbrook Drive

Nashua, NH 03060