Monday, August 15, 2005

Anybody remember Enable Software?

I was reading an article about some open-source software that's being used for extremely mission-critical type computing. It mentioned a website where one could find other users, in order to get help with the configuring and use of the software, and that got me to thinking.
Way back in the dark ages (before Windows started living on top of DOS and sucking up all the processor cycles), we had an integrated software package called Enable. It had a unified interface to a suite of applications: word processor, spreadsheet, telecom, graphing, and database.
We used to hang out at the enable bbs (that's bulletin board system to those not quite in the know), sharing our tips and tricks (and requests for enhancements) with other users, as well as with the company.
I guess I started using Enable when it was quite new - version 1.1A (back in 198x?) - and it was a welcome replacement to Wordstar and Lotus 1-2-3 in many ways. Stunningly, I still use it daily for many tasks - mostly database reporting, as it has an extremely rich and powerful procedural language which works with dBase IV dbf files, as well as a full implementation of SQL for those non-procedural tasks that sometimes rear their heads - even though the company has been out of business for several years.
One of the first things I do on my new machines is copy over the full installation of enable from a CD or zip disk (yep, it's less than 100MB for all that functionality!) so I can do what it is I need to do.
Anyone else out there still use old, supposedly obsolete software? I can't believe that in a world where tons o' folks are still using Windows 98, that there aren't tons of other older apps still churning out the good work for which they were intended. If you have other great abandoned apps which you still use regularly, why not post a reply here and share them with everyone? Here's a quick list to get you started:
  • enable (where we started)
  • pkzip (that's right, not WinZip!)
  • pfm (a great little file manager and viewer)
  • ted (a tiny editor)
  • AOLpress (an html editor that lets me put frames in my site)

OK, your turn!

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