Microsoft Access History
Our first hand, historical account watching how Microsoft Access
grew to take over the Windows desktop database market, and FMS's involvement to become the world's leading 3rd party developer
of Microsoft Access products. Discover how
we watched MS Access rise from nothing to the leading Windows desktop database
application. This directly caused the implosion of Borland International
which previously dominated the desktop database industry. Witnessing
this in person was an amazing experience of how quickly technology can
change established businesses.
This article was originally published by Microsoft on their website for
the 10 Year Anniversary Celebration of Access (October 2002):
FMS President, Luke Chung,
is featured as a "Microsoft Access Hero"
Chung: We Were So Impressed
FMS Jumps on the Microsoft Access Bandwagon
in 1986, FMS specialized in database applications and was a
leading third-party developer of tools for Borland's Paradox DOS
database product. In 1992, Borland just purchased Ashton Tate,
and between Paradox and dBASE, another database product,
controlled 85 percent of the personal computer database market.
Microsoft did not control any of the personal computer database
market at the time. Borland thought they owned the world, but the
transition to Microsoft Windows® was proving to be
At FMS, we were doing well with our MS-DOS® products
and anticipating the transition to Windows. We played with early
versions of Access and were very impressed with its table designer
and referential integrity, powerful queries, flexible form designer,
and report generator. We also liked the overall design of keeping
all of the objects in one file. It was much better than what we saw
coming from Borland for Windows.
"We're Not Worried"
Microsoft rolled out Access at COMDEX in 1992. The day before the
rollout, Borland had a lunch with some of their top outside
developers, and I was invited. After the lunch, Borland's Philippe
Kahn (CEO), Rob Dickerson (President) and I found ourselves alone. I
asked them if they had seen Access and what they thought about it. I
was shocked by what seemed to be their complete ignorance and
arrogance concerning Access.
They hadn't seen it and didn't care to. They assumed that they
had a better solution, and although it was coming out later than
Access, because of their significant market share, they would do
fine. I was stunned. I remember saying, "I think it's a really good
product. I think you should see it." They replied, "We're not
Total Access for Microsoft Access Is Born
I knew right then that FMS had to make a strategic change to
support Access. I knew Borland was going to get buried. I almost
flew home before the Access rollout. We were already behind. We
weren't deeply involved with the Access team during the rollout,
hadn't thought of any Access products (much less announce them),
didn't get in the product catalog inside the Access box, and knew we
had to move quickly.
Total Access became an immediate hit.
That got us going in the Access market
and the rest is history.
Returning from Las Vegas, Dan Haught (EVP) and I started developing
our Total Access documentation program.
In July 1993, we released Total Access for Access 1.1. With
promotions in the Access Advisor magazine and support from
Microsoft people like Tod Nielsen, it became an immediate hit. That got
us going in the Access market and the rest is history.
A Family of Access Products
Total Access evolved into a family of products for Access. When
Access 2.0 was released in 1994, we launched
Total Access Analyzer (for
database documentation and analysis),
Total Access Agent (for automated
Total Access Speller (a
Total Access Statistics
(for data analysis).
Today, FMS is the world's leading third-party developer of tools for
Microsoft Access and has released
12 award-winning products. We have
customers in more than 100 countries, and offer products for Microsoft
Visual Basic®, Microsoft SQL Server™, and Microsoft Visual
Studio® .NET. And it all happened because of how impressed we
were with Access in 1992.
Luke Chung is the president and founder of FMS, a leading provider
of third-party developer tools for Access. Luke is a database developer
and has created a wide range of applications using Access, Visual Basic,
and SQL Server. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two
of COMDEX 1992
What to see what COMDEX 1992 was like? Here's a YouTube
video clip starting with the debut of Microsoft Access and
commentary from a young