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COMDEX comes, and COMDEX goes. Luckily, this one's gone. It's not that COMDEX/Spring '89 was overtly bad. Trekking to Chicago is worthwhile, if just to visit the legendary Museum of Science and Industry, the huge Field Museum of Natural History (featuring a new recreation of an ancient Egyptian tomb), the Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Radio and Television, and the Chicago Art Institute (site of one of the classier COMDEX parties). And don't forget fabled Chicago pizza and jazz.
But was it worth a trip to Chicago just to find out what's new in dBASE products? Nope. Not much is new. Lots of exciting stuff is "Coming Soon," but until it's here, it isn't. Besides, very few database oriented firms exhibited, although many non-participants were seen prowling the aisles. Even with my AVPS (anti-vaporware protection system) cranked up to high, I choked on the stuff displayed. If those exhibitors who'd offered much-ado-about-nothing took their bag of mirrors and went home, some sections could have displayed in a phone booth.
Ashton-Tate didn't exhibit. It's difficult drumming up interest for dBASE IV when a new, improved version 1.1 is in the works. SQL Server is likewise pending, and dBASE/Mac is admittedly dead. The dBASE IV Professional Compiler would have been hot, had it appeared on schedule. Instead, word came that it's delayed for several months.
Instead of exhibiting the goodies we all desire, Ashton-Tate held private screenings of something they want to keep secret--sort of. If you weren't a member of the press, and if you knew the right people, and if you were willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement, you could've seen a demonstration of dBASE IV running on a DEC VAX computer under the VMS operating system. Ashton-Tate and DEC claim large companies with such machines lust after the massive amount of useful dBASE applications that are just out of reach. Actually, for several months VAX users have been able to purchase an advanced dBASE-compatible product called Recital from Recital Corp. Comparisons will have to wait for a more public demonstration of the secret dBASE version.
At a party, a DEC sales manager, who kept saying he shouldn't be telling me anything, told me Recital wasn't a threat. He said an analysis proved that Recital was way overpriced. Guess that means dBASE IV/VAX will cost less. He also told me that melding DEC and Ashton-Tate marketing teams was a major clash of corporate cultures. According to him, Ashton-Tate is concerned with the distribution channel, while DEC is concerned about the market. He claimed Ashton-Tate was obsessed with packaging--the appearance and even the box's shrink-wrapping. Yet in the large …