back to article The Sons of Kahn and the Witch of Wookey

Editor's Note: Verity Stob's Chronicles of Delphi [King James ed.] began in 1996. The most recent translations can be found here: The Sons of Kahn and the assembly language of the internet, here: The Sons of Kahn and the Pascal spring and here: Sons of Kahn: The Apocrypha. Now it came to pass the Sons of Kahn, who did dwell …

  1. Mage Silver badge


    Some day I most collect the entire Codex.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Lovely!

      I'm going to print it on canvas :)

      It's a pity most younger readers will lose the great irony (and sometimes pure sarcasm) about a product (and a company) now away from the headlines, and its users...

      But it was funny to see C# adding nested functions (with full access to local variables) - a true Pascal feature - while BorInCodeEmbarIdera tries to remove/deprecate Pascal features in an attempt to ape C#...

      And a note: development was offshored to Romania (Iasi), not Russia. Developers of the latter, while not writing malware, would code far better....

      1. 9Rune5

        Re: Lovely!

        "nested functions"

        Next up... Dare I hold out for the IN operator?

        Delphi's sets are more powerful than C#'s enums.

        Or the way Delphi handles strings? (In 25+ years of coding, I have never cared about whether a string is empty or nil. Never! string.IsNullOrEmpty() is used a lot in my C# code, and I'd much rather have the compiler do that for me)

        Or how about Delphi's form designer? WinForms is a bad joke that should be taken out and shot at dawn, and WPF is a bit too over the top for smaller projects (and near-impossible to localize, the Finns have certainly not found a sane way yet).

        But all in all, I'm quite happily using C#. It gets the job done. I do want to return to Delphi one day though.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Lovely!

          Delphi's sets are more powerful than C#'s enums.

          No they aren't. They're more expressive, but equally powerful,

          In 25+ years of coding, I have never cared about whether a string is empty or nil. Never!

          And no one else has different requirements, eh?

          1. 9Rune5

            Re: Lovely!

            > And no one else has different requirements, eh?

            I dunno. I have never encountered somebody who cares if a string is null or empty. I'd love to see an example where that distinction matters. (that distinction could be made in Delphi btw, but none of the RTL functions cared about it or raised any exceptions when faced with a null string pointer)

            Or care if something is DBNull.Value or just null.

            As I understand it, the next version of the C# language spec takes a long step towards fighting against the proliferation of null references all around. I think that is a step in the right direction, but as I said, I'd sure like strings to be a bit simpler.

      2. Ian 55

        'I'm going to print it on canvas'

        Tablets of stone, even if means buying a suitable CNC device...

  2. XSV1


    Verily I say unto thee, "Thus are we reminded much of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch".

  3. hplasm Silver badge

    Thus spake-

    the Oracle! (TM)

    1. CRConrad

      Re: Thus spake-

      Whatcha think _Delphi_ was named for...?

  4. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    And lo...

    Proof-reading was forbidden...

    Proof-reading was forbidden...

    Proof-reading was forbidden...

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: And lo...

      But all should heed the commandment that all hype on the internet of things shall be repeated threefold!

      And there shall be a great rejoicing!

      (Armouries chapter 6, verse 66)

    2. Ironclad

      Re: And lo...

      I think it is deliberate, designed to illustrate how excited some people get about trivial IOT stuff.

      I think it is deliberate, designed to illustrate how excited some people get about trivial IOT stuff.

      I think it is deliberate, .... oh I can't be bothered.

      Anyway, thanks for the article, made me smile lots. Best use of 'uh-oh' I have read in many a year.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: And lo...

      I believe 4, 5, and 6 are there due to the copy-pasta coding that comes with point 2...

  5. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    I must say I do like a mad lady who is reasonably priced.

    Paris, but with 's/mad/thick/;s/reasonably/unreasonably'

  6. dajames Silver badge


    Borland became Inprise

    Inprise went back to being Borland, because Inprise was a stupid name in anyone's book.

    Borland spun off the only interesting and useful part of their company as Code Gear so that the part still called Borland could concentrate on navel-gazing.

    Code Gear was bought by Embarcadero.

    Inprise + Borland + Code Gear

    In Bor Code Gearo ... Embarcadero

    Strangely, though, I have always found myself thinking of them as InBorCodeGear-a-dillo (perhaps in homage to some half-remembered old English folk song).

    Now I realise that I was just being prophetic: It's InBorCodeGear-Idera-O

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Prophetic

      Inprise name was ahead of times. Today with such a silly name you can easily gather hundreds of millions of VC funding, especially if you babble about IoT or the like every three words.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Prophetic

        "Today with such a silly name you can easily gather hundreds of millions of VC funding, especially if you babble about IoT or the like every three words."

        Provided another one of the other three is DevOps. And the third is cloud.

    2. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Prophetic

      Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!

      Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!

      Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

      I sometimes think Tolkien was doing some serious herbiage when he wrote these.

    3. Marco van de Voort

      Re: Prophetic

      Dajames: What about DevCo ? :-)

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Prophetic

      Borland spun off the only interesting and useful part of their company as Code Gear so that the part still called Borland could concentrate on navel-gazing.

      That "navel-gazing" included Visibroker, a product that still brings in millions of dollars in annual revenue. The Caliber and Silk lines also still do quite well. I'm not sure what revenues are like for StarTeam, but I know it's still under active development and has an active customer base.

      But I suppose if something's not interesting to you then it's not important.

      (Also, the CodeGear division was sold only a year before Micro Focus announced we were purchasing Borland. That's not a lot of time for Borland to have done anything after selling CodeGear.)

  7. Hollerithevo Silver badge

    I especially liked

    How Her Verityness nailed Classic FM's dime. Cruel and true.

  8. Alister Silver badge

    And the Youth Faction replied unto them: So we do too remember who Kahn was, he was the baddie in an early Trek movie possibly in black-and-white.

    ...and more recently played by that omnipresent thespian Bend-Him-over-the-Cucumber-Patch?

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Yes, a desperate Lucas-ism, reuse old successful characters in an attempt to revitalize ill designed and badly scripted reboots... more or less how Delphi is managed today.

      1. MonkeyCee Silver badge


        It's Star Trek a la JJ Abrams, not Lucas.

        I know it's confusing since ol' JJ is doing Star Trek and Star Wars at the same time.

        And it's a very valid criticism of JJ that he pretty much makes a story board of all the good scenes from a movie series, then puts them in some order, then invents a plot that veers between mild and complete suspension of disbelief to hang them together.

        At least he manages the pacing so that it's watchable (YMMV) and fucks less with the canon than Lucas did.

        To be fair while he butchered Trek (wife is the Trek nut here), at least the latest Wars managed to have both a halfway decent protagonist and villein without re-using old characters. And was far more like episodes 4-6 in feel, rather than 1-3.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: Erm....

          I know who's the luser behind the new ST, but it was Lucas who was forced first to reintroduce old loved characters in his new films in attempts to mask the appalling scripts. Jar Jar Abrams was forced as well later. Abrams rewrote ST canon (why "reboot", otherwise?) to suit its and Paramount needs (aka "easy money"), and made a mess of the characters - his ST is exactly what ST *was designed not to be*. But the console generation can't understand good SF, I'm afraid. And good characters design became an art of the past. Now you just need something on steroids and stupid like the audience - which no longer wants to be challenged.

        2. arctic_haze Silver badge

          Re: Erm....

          "more like episodes 4-6 in feel, rather than 1-3"

          That's why the first line of dialog in The Force Awakens runs:

          "This will begin to make things right".

          No kidding.

          1. Ian 55

            Re: Erm....

            It's because The Force Awakens is Ep IV after some doing a bit of search and replace and a bit of cut and paste.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. John 110


    ...Lazarus did rise from the ashes...

  10. sandman

    Made my Friday

    Must be a follower of the grey ones - I used to use Sidekick. Another excellent addition to the gospels.

  11. breakfast


    "(And one other thing about the Youth Faction: they prefixed every paragraph they spoke with the word 'so'. For they did not realise how ridiculous it is to begin every thought with the same, repeated conjunction.)"

    Brilliant, that one nearly passed me by.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: So...

      Also used by nearly every bloody scientist interviewed on the radio...

    2. CRConrad

      Re: So...

      Yeah, that's just before she starts begining each paragraph with "And".

  12. Anonymous IV

    National Treasure

    I would aver (and often do) that Verity's limpid prose is the nearest thing to a National Treasure that UK programming possesses, paralleled only by Lucy Kellaway's acerbic views of management incompetence.

    1. FrankAlphaXII Silver badge

      Re: National Treasure

      Who says that Lucy and Verity are not one and the same? I've never seen it disproven. Or even better, maybe Verity is Craig Wright, inventor of the Hoveround?

  13. Mephistro Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Nice article!

    It was both funny and informative. I have used several of Borland's products - Turbo Pascal and Turbo C++ - and found them excellent.

    On the other hand, some parts of the article reminded me of this! ;-)

  14. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    bloody brilliant!

    Verily I say unto you, this hath made tolerable the remaining hours of the work week.

    "6. And they did also make Delphi for Android. And they made versions for Ice Cream Sandwich, and for Jelly Bean, and for KitKat, and for Lollipop, and for Maketh My Teeth Hurt Just Reading This"


  15. Bob Rocket


    'Requires 64K RAM'

    64K for a text editor/calculator/ascii table/ other stuff.

    now I have separate programs for each of these tasks (despite needing one or more of these functions everytime I turn my PC on)

    It's a good job that Intel kept pushing processing power and memory got cheap to give me such an improvement over what crappy shit we had to put up in the 1980's.

    (that's over 30 years ago)


    1. Ian 55

      Re: Sidekick

      You used a set up program to fix the max size of the (memory resident) notepad, because it was about 64k plus the size of the notepad file, so up to about 128k. Shocking!

      There were some utilities that would get it down to about 6k resident RAM and swap in the rest only when needed.

      Of course, there were some problems in getting SK to play nicely with some other software but as Borland sold so many copies of SK, it was the other software's problem.

  16. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "And, notwithstanding Kylix they did they did plan a version for Linux."

    And AFAICS this means running the IDE on Windows with a cross-compiler for Linux. They never grasped the nettle of making the IDE cross-platform; unless memory plays me false Kylix relied on running the Windows IDE in a hacked version of Wine which, like other binary-only stuff, didn't survive the transition to 2.6 kernels. What was worse the compiler that shipped with Kylix wasn't that good. That's not good in that it would barf on suitably complex but legit Pascal.

    There was a compiler called cross-Kylix which could be used with Delphi and which did a better job. Here we are, a decade or so later, looking at the same approach. Meanwhile everyone who wanted to use the Delphi approach to cross-platform programming running the IDE on Linux or BSD has been getting along nicely with Lazarus. How much are they asking for RAD-Studio these days?

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Even the promised Linux compiler will be a by-side product of the Android one - Delphi doesn't generate Android "Java" code. It will be another LLVM based product, and not fully compatible with Windows code, because of ARC vs. manual memory management. They plan to add ARC to the Windows compiler too, but it will require a lot of code changed, and ARC IMHO is no good in highly scalable and concurrent applications - mostly good for "client" stuff with a few threads only - exactly the client of applications you're not going to develop on Linux.

      The IDE is historically a Windows one, and when they also injected a lot of .NET code that made porting even more difficult (and even .NET Core may not be enough).

      But looking at the still dreadful state of Linux GUI widgets, maybe it is not that bad...

      Now they have FireMonkey widgets as a portable GUI, but being fully "owner drawn" like Java Swing, I believe a full IDE written that way would be actually very slow on every platform. Oh well, people use that lethargy simulator called Eclipse...

    2. donaldklopper


      FPC/Lazarus doesn't get nearly enough credit... if you haven't yet, do yourself a favour and build a (database) application using Lazarus on say Windows ... and copy the code to a Linux Lazarus installation (or the other way around) and rebuild ... and run it there. Go check out the available libraries, reporting tools etc ... it's really useful.

  17. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    "Maketh My Teeth Hurt Just Reading This"


    1. Long John Brass Silver badge

      Re: "Maketh My Teeth Hurt Just Reading This"


  18. DJV Silver badge

    And these followers did hang out in GitHub and Google Plus

    Wait, "Google Plus" - is that still a thing?

  19. Naughtyhorse

    No IT angle....

    I was driving through Derby the other day (well someone has to) and found myself following a merc with the reg

    ST08 EWW

    which i thought was a bit harsh.

  20. wotanica

    Smart pascal

    PS: Embarcadero was about to buy Smart Mobile Studio, but was consumed by Idera instead.

    Just so you know :)

  21. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Reminded me why I don't read Mashable

    A fine piece by Ms Stob as usual, but ow, that link to that Mashable piece about Philippe Kahn... There are some impressive howlers there, considering they had to be packed into 700 words.

    Like, oh, "In 1997 — when the Internet was just four years old". Try 14, kid - and that's assuming we're only talking about the TCP/IP Internet; double that figure if you include the NCP ARPANET (which is arguably more accurate, since it was an internet and the direct ancestor of the Internet).

    I almost feel bad for complaining about technical errors in other Reg articles after reading that Mashable piece. Almost.

  22. Ian 55

    One of the best uses of a time machine

    Would be to go back to just before Kahn decided to buy Ashton-Tate and break his hands so he couldn't sign off on it.

    A Borland that didn't piss away hundreds of millions of dollars on that deal, then hundreds of thousands of man hours trying to make the acquired software work might still be with us as Borland...

  23. This post has been deleted by a moderator

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