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Paradox was an early desktop relational database management system (RDBMS) that was first released by Ansa Software in 1985. It was originally written in C, but later ported to C++, and was initially offered for Microsoft’s DOS operating system. Another version for Windows became available in 1993.
Ansa Software was purchased by Borland in 1987, and today Paradox is one of the smaller RDBMS offerings, although one with a dedicated group of users and supporters.
The first version of Paradox was developed as result of work done by developers Richard Schwartz and Robert Shostak. This was version was released in 1985. In 1987, following the acquisition of the Ansa Software company by software giant Borland, Paradox v2.0 was released. Both version were available for the dominant desktop operating system of the time, MS-DOS. The early versions won accolades for their excellent illustrations and documentation, which made it easy for newbies to learn the application quickly. Paradox’s main rivals at this time were dBase and FoxPro.
In 1990, development began on Paradox for Windows, which was markedly different from the DOS version. The finished product was made available in 1993. By that time, another crucial competitor had emerged: Microsoft’s own Access. A combination of higher-level usability, more and better features, poor strategic decisions by Borland, and support from Microsoft, meant that Access quickly overtook Paradox in the desktop-database market. The final blow came in 1995, when Microsoft began bundling Access as part of the Microsoft Office suite, thus grabbing a commanding monopoly in the desktop-database market in which Paradox played.
Borland sold most of its software products to WordPerfect, and these were later purchased by Corel. As of 2011, Paradox is offered as part of Corel’s WordPerfect Office suite, and retains a small, dedicated community of users who are determined to keep it alive.