This language was quite simple with its English-like commands (use, find, append, list, etc.). It was invented by Wayne Ratliff, a young programmer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena, California. Ratliff had the idea of a database program for desktop computer based on the one used on mainframes at work. He implemented it on his kit-built computer at home. Not only could his software create a table, save and load data, but it could also create pure ASCII programs (like DOS batch files) which could display and print data. Ratliff called his software Vulcan and began to sell it by mail order…but George Tate saw the potential for that software and he contacted Ratliff and convinced him to create a company to sell the software. This company could have been called Ratliff-Tate but George Tate wanted a more respectable name — Ashton-Tate — even though there was nobody named Ashton among the shareholders nor among the employees, and later he changed it to dBASE-II, even though it was not the second version at all.
dBase was originally published by Ashton-Tate for microcomputer operating system CP/M in 1980, and later ported to Apple II and IBM PC computers running DOS. On the PC platform, in particular, dBase became one of the best-selling software titles for a number of years. A major upgrade was released as dBase III, and ported to a wider variety of platforms, adding UNIX, and VMS. By the mid-1980s, Ashton-Tate was one of the “big three” software publishers in the early business software market, the others being Lotus Development and WordPerfect.
As platforms and operating systems proliferated in the early 1980s, the company found it difficult to port the assembly language-based dBase to target systems. This led to a re-write of the platform in the C programming language, using automated code conversion tools.