Reflex (by Borland)

I can’t remember when I last had Reflex up and running.

Reflex Splash page

Reflex Splash

What’s Reflex? It’s a flat file database from around 1990. It ran in 640k of RAM. That’s less than 1 Megabyte. It, like other Borland products, was a victim of the ridiculous legal challenge brought by the Lotus Development Corporation against Borland over Quattro Pro; so it never got a facelift to address memory over the 1 Megabyte barrier -an architectural limitation (no-one will ever use more than ONE MEGABYTE!! some boffin at IBM is reputed to have said). Those were the days.

Back to Reflex. I’ve had a copy sitting ready to be loaded but since the advent of Windows95 (MSDOS v 3.95 for the pedantic) it’s been a little tricky to get going. I’ve used DOSBox as an emulator so I decided to give it a go.

Reflex won’t work directly in my XP. At first it didn’t work in DOSbox. It turned out I needed a command line setting.
So – run a DOSbox window and commence typing like a crazy fool at the command prompt:
mount c c:\tools\reflex [enter]
C: [enter]
reflex -a+ [enter]

In order:
This mounts the Reflex folder to C:\
Navigates to the (newly mounted) Reflex folder
Launches Reflex, noting that
1) Old products need folder and path names to be short. They’re designed to tight memory specs (640k remember). They just won’t see anything too long – I’m guessing 128 characters TOTAL in any path / file.
2) -a+ Uses asynchronous disk I/O. That setting isn’t required on my older PC (10 yrs pls) but my ‘new’ 8 year old PC errored out without that setting.

When Reflex is loaded, it is possible to peep back into the DOS shell via:
[alt]Utilities|DOS commands.
Do that and get this:

DOS shell from within Reflex

DOS shell from within Reflex

Ah. The comfort of the command line interface!!
At this point do not panic. Type
exit [enter]
You will be returned to the strangeness that is Reflex.

Reflex command line settings.
At the command prompt type
Reflex ? [enter]

Reflex Command Line-Settings

Reflex Command Line-Settings

Reflex readme file
At the command prompt type [enter]

Once loaded
This is a flat file database. It deals with data & text but no images or audio. Its native format is R2D and it translates from
DB, DBF, DIF, PFS, R2D, TXT, WK1, WKS, WKQ, WQ1 (see piccy)

Reflex: translate-from

Reflex: translate-from

to various formats including most of the above (not sure about the PFS)

Reflex Translate to

Reflex Translate to – noting that the fields shown above are from a pre-existing file

In earlier days I modelled the cost system (cascaded departmental structure) on Reflex in 1988/89 – using a puny 186k of memory.


Utilities-Global-Settings *** No-one – absolutely no-one could use more than ONE MEGABYTE of memory!!

There was a trick that allowed you to enter a self-evaulating formula as its own result – which saved an immense amount of laborious hand calculations as well as computer memory.
This worked by entering the formula as !=[formulaic incantation]

I’m going to take a look at my Quattro Pro now.

About Terence Park

Board games, US Comic books, SF Paperbacks, Vinyl records; I've plenty of them all. I write SF (the serious sort). I also do spreadsheets.
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1 Response to Reflex (by Borland)

  1. Terence Park says:

    Transition path –
    either: save as a text file
    or save as Lotus 1-2-3 (WK1 extension) and open this in Open Office Calc (Libre, Apache). But not current versions of Microsoft Office or IBM Lotus Symphony).
    Reflex communicates rather well with Quattro Pro but that’s a topic for another time.


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