Microsoft Access Debut and History

Microsoft Access 30th Birthday AnniversaryMicrosoft Access is celebrating its 30th year. It's an amazing accomplishment for a software product to be so successful for so many years. We at FMS were there since the beginning.

Here's our first hand, historical account of watching Microsoft Access take over the Windows desktop database market, and how we became 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)

The video is from the November 1992 COMDEX conference where a very young Bill Gates personally announced the debut of Microsoft Access. He remains a big fan of Access and was actively involved in its design and development.

FMS President, Luke Chung, is featured as a "Microsoft Access Hero"

Chung: We Were So Impressed

FMS Jumps on the Microsoft Access Bandwagon

Luke ChungEstablished 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 challenging.

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 worried."

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.

Returning from Las Vegas, Dan Haught (EVP) and I started developing our Total Access documentation program.

Total Access became an immediate hit. That got us going in the Access market and the rest is history.

Luke Chung
President and Founder
FMS, Inc.

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 database maintenance), Total Access Speller (a spellchecker), and 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 daughters.

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Want to see what COMDEX 1992 was like? Here's a YouTube news video clip starting with the debut of Microsoft Access and commentary from a young Bill Gates.

Microsoft Access appears at the 11:48 mark

Bill Gates at Comdex 1992

Table Design

Query Design

Form Design

Form Tips and Mistakes

Copy Command Button and Keep Picture

Module VBA to Forms and Controls

Form Navigation Caption

Resync Record in a Subform

Synchronize Two Subforms

Multiple OpenArgs Values

Late Bind Tab Subforms

Subform Reference to Control Rather than Field

Tab Page Reference

Shortcut Keys

Combo Box Top 6 Tips

Properties and Validation

Select First Item

Cascading Combo Boxes

Zip, City, State AutoFill

Report Design

Suppress Page Headers and Footers on the First Page of Your Report

Add the NoData Event

Annual Monthly Crosstab Columns

Design Environment

Add Buttons to the Quick Access Toolbar

Collapse the Office Ribbon for more space

VBA Programming

Basics: Forms and Controls

Run VBA Code from a Macro

Use Nz() to Handle Nulls

Avoid Exits in the Body of a Procedure

Shortcut Debugging Keys

Set Module Options

Math Rounding Issues

Rename a File or Folder

Avoid DoEvents in Loops

Age Calculations

Weekday Math

Send Emails with DoCmd.SendObject

Source Code Library

Microsoft Access Modules Library

Microsoft Access Modules

VBA Error Handling

Error Handling and Debugging Techniques

Error Number and Description Reference

Basic Error Handling

Pinpointing the Error Line

Performance Tips

Linked Database

Subdatasheet Name

Visual SourceSafe


Runtime Downloads

Simulate Runtime

Prevent Close Box

Disable Design Changes

Broken References

Remote Desktop Connection Setup

Terminal Services and RemoteApp Deployment

Reboot Remote Desktop

Missing Package & Deployment Wizard

Avoid Program Files Folder

Unavailable Mapped Drives

Microsoft Access Front-End Deployment

System Admin

Disaster Recovery Plan

Compact Database

Compact on Close

Database Corruption

Remove 'Save to SharePoint Site' Prompt from an Access Database

Class Not Registered Run-time Error -2147221164

Inconsistent Compile Error

Decompile Database

Bad DLL Calling Convention

Error 3045: Could Not Use

Converting ACCDB to MDB

SQL Server Upsizing

Microsoft Access to SQL Server Upsizing Center

Microsoft Access to SQL Server Upsizing Center

When and How to Upsize Access to SQL Server

SQL Server Express Versions and Downloads

Cloud and Azure

Cloud Implications

MS Access and SQL Azure

Deploying MS Access Linked to SQL Azure

SQL Server Azure Usage and DTU Limits

Visual Studio LightSwitch

LightSwitch Introduction

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