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Author Topic: Software Hall of Fame  (Read 14693 times)
rpruyn
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« on: August 04, 2011, 04:54:01 AM »

Ever so often, I see the usual suspects of lists like 'best products in IT-history' or the 'Biggest tech flops' pass by, but I almost never see those rankings for software, unless it is a summary of the best 'freebies of 20..'. It's like everyone uses programs, and then erases from their collective memories when the next OS/major software update comes along.
So I was wondering: do you guys have any programs any mind that deserve Hall of Fame-status? The ones you used on older operating systems, the ones that were ahead of their time, or the ones that radically changed the way you use your computer? Especially in the early nineties, as that period precedes my own fond memories...
I'm real curious. Hope this is the right place to ask  Wink
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« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2011, 05:55:25 AM »

Excel has been so useful to me, over and over through the years.
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Shades
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« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2011, 06:29:29 AM »

RagTimeSolo:
Way too advanced for the days it came out (around 2000). Practically the complete MS-Office experience in one program (including DTP!), where you could use all functionality (text, database, spreadsheet) in one and the same document.

It made a big impression on me at the time.
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« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2011, 11:07:43 AM »

Stuff that revolutionised my life: in the late 80's, WordStar IV. (WS3 was still a bit too CP/M.)

In the 90s, DESQview/386 (ie the version that included QEMM). dBase IV in one window, WordStar 6 in another, and SuperCalc V in a third and you can take Windows 3.1 and shove it where the sun don't shine.  Wink Learn-and-replay keyboard macros. Multitasking on a PC before anyone else could get close. I can't bring myself to throw it away, either, although I know that box will never be opened again...

And how could I forget SpinRite, by the Heavenly Steve Gibson?

In the 00s, Directory Opus. (I know, but I spend a LOT of time playing in filesystems.)

In the 10s... probably too soon to say. My favourite things are mostly browser-based -- like Lastpass, and Speed Dial. I'm falling in love with Sagelight, although my first loves for Things Graphical are all made by Serif.

AutoHotKey's starting to look like a keeper, too.

Also... the agenda, database and contacts applications built into my old and much missed Psion 5mx were (a) superb and (b) still unmatched, anywhere. (I keep thinking about paying for the Pro version of Essential PIM just to give me an excuse to complain at the developers until they've replicated the Psion experience.)

I feel old...  embarassed  ohmy
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mwb1100
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« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2011, 02:19:51 PM »

A few that I'd nominate for consideration:

  - Turbo Pascal: revolutionized programming (for both hobbyists and pros).  Affordable, fast, and one of the first (if not actually the first) IDE's.
  - Windows 3.0 Enhanced mode: Real multi-tasking of your MS-DOS programs, mixed in with the new-fangled GUI stuff
  - Mosaic Internet browser: made the internet/web accessible to the hoi polloi.
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40hz
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« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2011, 02:33:54 PM »

Good lord! There are so many...

JavelinPlus - radically powerful financial modeling software frequently mistaken for a spreadsheet. I used this extensively when it first came out back when I was in corporate financial planning. I have yet to see anything that comes close to it in terms of design or functional elegance.

From Wikipedia:

Quote
Javelin encourages viewing data and algorithms in various self-documenting ways, including simultaneous multiple synchronized views. For example, users can move through the connections between variables on a diagram while seeing the logical roots and branches of each variable. This is an example of what is perhaps its primary contribution—the concept of traceability of a user's logic or model structure through its twelve views. Among its dynamically linked views were: diagram, formulas, table, chart, QuickGraph, worksheet, notes, errors, macro, graph. A complex model can be dissected and understood by others who had no role in its creation, and this remains unique even today. Javelin was used primarily for financial modeling, but was also used to build instructional models in college chemistry courses, to model the world's economies, and by the military in the early Star Wars project. It is still in use by institutions for which model integrity is mission critical.

Javelin received multiple awards, including: "Best of 1985" for technical excellence from PC Magazine[1]; "Most Significant Product" from PC Week; and "Software Product of the Year".[2] 'The Infoworld award apparently created some consternation in the top ranks of number two Microsoft:'

    "Then there was the year Microsoft's new Windows spreadsheet, Excel, was up against start-up Javelin Software's Javelin spreadsheet for InfoWorld Product of the Year. Although Excel was a beautiful extension of the existing spreadsheet concept, Javelin had imaginative features, says Michael McCarthy, InfoWorld reviews editor from 1984 to 1990 and current publisher of IDG's San Francisco-based Web Publishing Inc., producers of JavaWorld and SunWorld. "I persuaded InfoWorld to give Javelin Product of the Year," McCarthy says. "At the InfoWorld dinner at Comdex, when they gave out the award for Product of the Year and Excel came in second, Bill Gates got up and stomped out of the room in front of everybody in a spectacularly rude manner." "Backstage: InfoWorld's movers and shakers By Scott Mace http://archive.infoworld....ary/98ann.backstage.shtml
    

================================

 Ronstadt's Financials - Brilliant!, brilliant!!, brilliant!!! business financial planning tool and book set. I planned my very first startup using this software. I've used it with several other businesses I've been involved with as well. Good 1989 Inc.Magazine article about the product and it's creator here.

================================

 TurboPascal - time was, if you wanted to write your own "real" programs, "TP three-oh-two" was what you used. (Still available for free download courtesy of Borland!)

Business programs benefited from the BCD edition (originally extra $$$, later incorporated into a single release) which avoided floating point arithmetic hassles by providing binary coded decimal real number math capabilities.

From the README.TXT file:

Quote

WELCOME TO TURBO PASCAL 3.0
                     ---------------------------

This file contains important information not found in the Reference
Manual.  Included is information on how to get technical help, a
description of differences between Turbo Pascal 2.0 and 3.0,
corrections to the Reference Manual, and a complete list of files on
the distribution disk.  Since this file contains information important
to you, please read it in its entirety; hopefully it will answer any
questions you may have.

Special Note:  Turbo Pascal now comes complete with three versions of
the compiler.  The standard compiler: TURBO.COM, the compiler with
support for the optional 8087 math coprocessor: TURBO-87.COM, and the
compiler with BCD (Binary Coded Decimal) real number support for precise,
business oriented computations: TURBOBCD.COM.  Simply recompile your
source code with one of the compilers to take advantage of the optional
real number support.  Please note that to use TURBO-87.COM you must
have an 8087 coprocessor chip installed in your computer.  Most
computers do not come with the 8087 chip installed.

====================================

FidoNet BBS and QModem

Its wot got us all started goin' up online to begin wit Guv, innit?

A super dial-up client (with VT100 terminalemulation and ZModem support built-in!) plus a solid network-aware BBS system. The combination was a match made in heaven. Harbingers of what was to come.

This was our Internet before there was an Internet. (Note: FidoNet is still around too!)

 


I could go on and on about all the others (past and present) in my personal Hall o' Fame....so I'd better stop now.  Grin

« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 02:40:24 PM by 40hz » Logged

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wraith808
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« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2011, 02:53:29 PM »

Delphi - Borland had a real contender until they started trying to compete with Microsoft instead of tending their own business.

NSFW Commentary

Castle Wolfenstein - first step in a new generation of shooters.

Everquest - it's called evercrack for a reason.  Showed that MMOs were not just a viable revenue stream, but had the potential of being a money machine (or a money pit, as people later learned).

Steam - pretty recent, but Valve had a dream of digital games.  And though it's not fully realized yet, when it is, Valve will be known as one of the pioneers in this field.
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40hz
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« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2011, 03:13:50 PM »

Delphi - Borland had a real contender until they started trying to compete with Microsoft instead of tending their own business.

Bravo! Truer words were never spoken.

------------------------------------------------

@wraith808, re: NSFW Commentary:

Priceless! Absolutely priceless!!!


I have got to remember that one!!! Thmbsup

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f0dder
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« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2011, 05:19:22 PM »

And how could I forget SpinRite, by the Heavenly Steve Gibson?
You were smart enough to use  DESQview and QEMM, bt you fell for SpinRite? O_o

- Turbo Pascal: revolutionized programming (for both hobbyists and pros).  Affordable, fast, and one of the first (if not actually the first) IDE's.
It generated pretty lousy code, but it was a great language to develop in back then, and Borland IDEs were amazing when you were learning programming; integrated help was great. And the capability of compiling directly to RAM and bypassing the disk subsystem was a godsend for fast modify/compile/test cycles, disk was slow smiley

Castle Wolfenstein - first step in a new generation of shooters.
Do you mean Castle Wolfenstein or Wolfenstein 3D? tongue. Wolf3D was awesome, but it began even earlier - the first one I tried was Catacombs 3D. Doom was when it really got awesome, though smiley
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- carpe noctem
oblivion
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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2011, 02:04:31 AM »

And how could I forget SpinRite, by the Heavenly Steve Gibson?
You were smart enough to use  DESQview and QEMM, bt you fell for SpinRite? O_o
You never needed to reinterleave an MFM HD, I take it? Spinrite was  Cool

I grant it lost a lot of its usefulness once RLL drives came along, and IDE and subsequent technologies have made it a niche "recover from low-level errors" thing that I think I've only ever needed to suggest somebody use once in the last decade or so, but I still appreciate the quality of the program -- from a distance.

Why is that wrong?

Quote
disk was slow smiley

That's what you get for not using Spinrite [DARFC]  smiley
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oblivion
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« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2011, 02:17:09 AM »

This was our Internet before there was an Internet. (Note: FidoNet is still around too!)
Strictly speaking, you don't mean the Internet, you mean the web. The Internet started in the early 70s, and FidoNet was -- what, 1985?

From that viewpoint, I'd add Silver Xpress, FrontDoor and Portal of Power to the list. The first got me understanding what Fido was all about, and the latter two ran my point system and my BBS, in that (chronological) order. (No, I know most readers here won't know what on earth we're talking about. Move on, move on!

Fido knew how to do message quoting, too. UseNet standards -- the ones we mostly all use now -- are far nastier.   Wink
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app103
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« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2011, 02:53:43 AM »

These are some old apps...

Claris Easy Business Cards - The best software Apple ever released for Windows.
Copernic - Until Google came along, it was THE way to search the web.
Nuts & Bolts - The best defragger, ever.
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fenixproductions
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« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2011, 03:21:52 AM »

Fido knew how to do message quoting, too. UseNet standards -- the ones we mostly all use now -- are far nastier.   Wink
Do you mean: http://www.riddle.ru/dl/fido/FSC-0032.001 ?
I thought it is Usenet standard (at least the one I had used on NNTP groups).

I agree that some of the current ways are totally messy.
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40hz
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« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2011, 03:28:06 AM »

Strictly speaking, you don't mean the Internet, you mean the web. The Internet started in the early 70s, and FidoNet was -- what, 1985?

Actually, I did mean the Internet in that I was referring to Fido's behavior as a 'network of networks' communicating under a commonly shared protocol; as opposed to 'the web', which I always took (perhaps erroneously) to refer to the global collection of linked hypertext documents accessible via the Internet.  smiley

But some of my definitions date to 'way back when' so they could well be obsolete by current standards.  Grin

(And you're correct.  Most people will have no idea what we're talking about. But that's good in a way. Because that meant they missed out on all the aggravation (even if they also missed out on all the "fun") of running a Fidonet node. Onward! Thmbsup )

« Last Edit: August 05, 2011, 03:41:55 AM by 40hz » Logged

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oblivion
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« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2011, 03:54:05 AM »

Fido knew how to do message quoting, too. UseNet standards -- the ones we mostly all use now -- are far nastier.   Wink
Do you mean: http://www.riddle.ru/dl/fido/FSC-0032.001 ?
I thought it is Usenet standard (at least the one I had used on NNTP groups).
Because it cost the users (and most of the sysops) real money to send and receive every character, the Fido standard was designed to focus on clarity and conciseness. The standards exist in Usenet too but the costs are borne elsewhere and the upshot was -- mostly, anyway -- that messages were quoted in their entirety below the response.

Different Fido message editors handled things differently; my favourite (Xpress) did quotes very well, retained initials of initial posters in messages that were more than a conversation just between two people, and actually seemed to encourage the "selective quoting" that allowed the sensible ones to just quote relevant text (and the mischief-makers to use quotes to make different points to what the poster actually meant but hey, nobody's perfect and it was usually for humorous purposes  smiley )

Quote
I agree that some of the current ways are totally messy.

Outlook's got a lot to answer for. Although I can only think of one email client that gets some way towards "proper" quoting -- The Bat! -- and one other -- Thunderbird -- that can be persuaded to work nearly as well as The Bat with some effort. And an addon.

As an ex-echo moderator (and briefly and scarcely in any important way an ex-Regional Echomail Controller) I do my best to keep to the standards Fido taught me when emailing and writing in fora but it's FAR harder than it ought to be. Odd: Fido was organisationally anarchic but internally totally standards-driven and mostly compliant; the Internet's almost the exact opposite. Maybe there are some clues there...

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oblivion
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« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2011, 04:07:02 AM »

Actually, I did mean the Internet in that I was referring to Fido's behavior as a 'network of networks' communicating under a commonly shared protocol; as opposed to 'the web', which I always took (perhaps erroneously) to refer to the global collection of linked hypertext documents accessible via the Internet.  smiley
No, in that sense you're quite right. Although Fido was -- AIUI -- modelled on the internet as it then was, and therefore couldn't have predated it.

Quote
Because that meant they missed out on all the aggravation (even if they also missed out on all the "fun") of running a Fidonet node. Onward! Thmbsup )

Hah. It WAS fun. Even when it wasn't, the choice to NOT do it always existed, so it MUST have been fun.

I still sometimes miss 2:25/108. You can tell, can't you?   embarassed
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« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2011, 04:36:08 AM »

Fruityloops - made it easier for any small guy using computer to produce music. Many production level tunes are made with this software today. Same goes to reason, rebirth and Acid.

Virtual Dimension- lets you keep any wallpaper and apps running on multiple desktop and you can switch between desktops. Just in case ya know..NSFW stuff.

Winamp (no seriously), SQlite and Autohotkey.

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« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2011, 12:35:16 PM »

Fabrice Bellard's freeware LZEXE, circa 1989 - the first program I ever saw that could convert .EXE files to smaller .EXE files which unpacked in memory before running the same as before. End users were running this on programs even if the developer had not. Imagine how many apps (yes, that word was around in the DOS days) you could fit on a 720KB diskette! The UPX of its day, and possibly the first one. More about Fabrice Bellard on Wikipedia

Vern Buerg's LIST - a DOS file viewer of around the same era, I think. No more type filename.ext|more! The program also came with a command line tool FV.EXE to see the contents of archive files. Very handy! Oddly, he doesn't have a Wikipedia page. (Sadly, Vern Buerg passed away in 2009.)

More as I think of them.
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« Reply #18 on: August 05, 2011, 12:51:44 PM »

Alpha Four (smooth as silk DOS relational database with prompts that made sense)
PC Tools (great disk repair utility, one version of it even included a flat file database program)
DR DOS 5 and 6, and Novell DOS 7 (Introduced new features like disk compression, caching, and virtual drives that forced Microsoft to do the same with MS-DOS) Plus its version of fdisk did not require a subsequent format. Magic!
Turbo Pascal (version 2 or 3?) provided to me on a 5.25" diskette. A compiler that produced real executables and came with a built-in IDE that made writing compiled code as easy as writing interpreted code.

There was a full screen freeware text editor called "e" that loaded lightning fast because it was compiled to a .COM file, which back then that meant it was non-relocatable by the OS and therefore had less overhead. Your assignment now is to find a web search engine that will let you search for "e".
« Last Edit: August 05, 2011, 12:55:06 PM by daddydave » Logged
40hz
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« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2011, 12:59:41 PM »

Also add Borland's Sidekick - the sui generis app that launched the DOS "TSR revolution" (with all the problems going down that road ultimately caused nono2) before we had personal systems capable of having more than one thing loaded at a time - because DOS (despite the name) was more a "command processor" rather than what we today consider to be an operating system.

Sidekick was a genuinely useful little productivity app collection. I found myself using it constantly.

And the NANSI.SYS and NNANSI.COM enhanced console drivers for DOS! These little beasties boosted screen performance and provided additional features when using EGA/VGA monitors. If you were a heavy spreadsheet user, this was an absolute must have for the improvement in scrolling speed alone. The 50 line display option was also a gift from heaven. Either of these puppies was one of the first things every "power user" worthy of the name loaded onto his or her machine.
 Cool

« Last Edit: August 05, 2011, 01:14:52 PM by 40hz » Logged

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40hz
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« Reply #20 on: August 05, 2011, 01:06:55 PM »

Alpha Four (smooth as silk DOS relational database with prompts that made sense)

+1. Very sweet little database that didn't require a CS degree to use! Thmbsup

Its newest iteration (Alpha Five v10.5) is still a very capable database product - although it's gotten much more complex (and expensive!) since it's Alpha Four days.

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« Reply #21 on: August 05, 2011, 01:13:54 PM »

Not sure I can explain it now in 2011 but PageMaker was good (whatever that means) back in the day.
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40hz
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« Reply #22 on: August 05, 2011, 01:21:00 PM »

Not sure I can explain it now in 2011 but PageMaker was good (whatever that means) back in the day.

That's because PageMaker was "it" back in the day!  Grin

Or was until Quark Xpress showed up and piddled all over their pop tarts! tongue

(To be fair, they've gotten almost all of it back with the advent of their CS release.  Kiss )

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« Reply #23 on: August 05, 2011, 01:46:35 PM »

Not sure I can explain it now in 2011 but PageMaker was good (whatever that means) back in the day.

That's because PageMaker was "it" back in the day!  Grin

Or was until Quark Xpress showed up and piddled all over their pop tarts! tongue

(To be fair, they've gotten almost all of it back with the advent of their CS release.  Kiss )



InDesign is the successor isn't it? Haven't ever used it myself.
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« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2011, 02:38:43 PM »

From DOS days...

Borland's Sprint Wikipedia

Brown bag Software - PC Outline.

 Thmbsup for Vern Buerg's LIST though. Used that a LOT.
Mostly use less these days though (good Windows port here)

 Thmbsup for PC Tools (Central Point Software) as well
PC-Cache was just fantastic.

Qedit editor:  Wikipedia
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