Turbo Vision, Borland’s text-mode widget toolkit, is fairly widely known by those old enough to remember it, and apparently quite influential: it gave rise to a number of ports and reimplementations (Sergio Sigala’s TVision, Free Vision, jexer, or the recently-released port by magiblot), especially after the library was donated into the public domain.

Despite this wide recognition and influence, I am struggling to come up with examples of software that actually used it back in the day, other than Borland’s own Pascal and C++ IDEs, the demos included with them, and Turbo Debugger.

Was there any ‘major’, widely-known, especially non-Borland software that used Turbo Vision (either the Pascal or C++ version), from before the library was released into the public domain? Or did Turbo Vision gain this ‘cult following’ only in retrospect?

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    I'm sure that lots of ISV software used it.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 23:09
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    I think that question shows a severe mis-understanding of the Borland compilers' role. Even if you extended it beyond TV to TP and TC themselves, you wouldn't find many examples of 'major', widely-known non-Borland software that was compiled with the Borland compilers. Professional software companies would have used MS, Watcom or IBM development tooling rather than Borland. Borland compilers were, when "professionally" used, used for bespoke, in-house, one-off and maybe Q&D projects.
    – tofro
    Commented Dec 20, 2020 at 12:53
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    Fair enough; I forgot that Borland targeted its products mostly at hobbyists until very late in DOS’s lifetime. As I remember, their first version of Pascal aimed at professionals was Borland Pascal 7, which was also the last to target DOS; its successor Delphi targeted Windows 3.x only (and I believe it was meant to target Windows 95). Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 13:04
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    @snips-n-snails I think that's a bit far-fetched. While doing a similar thing, TV's architecture is entirely different (its purpose was probably more to promote OOP in the Turbo language space than everything else) and its feature set is far more advanced than curses.
    – tofro
    Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 6:23
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    @snips-n-snails If you look at the Turbo Vision reference manual, it's more that curses is, at best, a very primitive and sparse widget toolkit, while Turbo Vision is more an application framework akin to a "Qt for DOS".
    – ssokolow
    Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 21:33

6 Answers 6


Somewhat obscure but IDA Pro for DOS was using Turbo Vision

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Later the same TUI got ported to OS/2, Win32 console and Linux terminal and at one point even iPhone!

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The TVision version is still shipped today for Win32, Linux and macOS together with the default Qt GUI.

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Updated cross-platform TVision library source code is available for download.

  • Out of interest - why did you choose this? Was IDA Pro compiled with Turbo C/Pascal at the time? Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 11:31
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    @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen I wasn’t involved back then but AFAIK it was indeed compiled with Borland C++ (later Watcom, then C++ Builder, and nowadays Visual C++). Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 18:20

DOS Navigator was a fairly popular file manager. Similar to Norton Commander, but far more powerful and feature-rich. I'd call it 'major' because in DOS times everyone had a file manager like this, and DOS Navigator was, I believe, the pinnacle of such type of file manager.

It had a distinct look and feel of Turbo Vision, and used all its main features like multiple resizable non-modal windows or characteristic keyboard mapping.

DOS Navigator screenshot


You have to appreciate that the vast bulk of software written in the world never sees the light of day outside of the business that created it. There are millions of programmers worldwide working every day on applications, yet we as the public see a small fraction of those applications.

Most of the code is line of business back office work, software used for internal research projects, work at universities, etc.

Eleventy billion lines of Visual Basic apps can't be wrong.

As you can imagine there has always been a bottomless need for tools that make application development easier for day to day coders.

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    I fully agree with your point, however I don’t think the OP was asking whether TV had been “useful” or “successful”, but whether it had been used for major “shrink-wrap” commercial applications. The answer can be “yes” to the former and “no” to the latter. Commented Dec 20, 2020 at 17:33
  • But it is also a leading question. It's bundling with 16-bit compilers might have been more prohibitive than the features of the environment itself. Commented Nov 13, 2022 at 11:07

I don’t remember any major non-Borland software written using Turbo Vision either. I suspect that if there had been, it would have been listed in part 3 of the Turbo Vision FAQ, “Applications written with Turbo Vision”.


MINUET was very well known if you belonged to the small esoteric group of people with access to this new fad called internet and unlucky enough not to have access to VAX or even Unix server, but lucky enough to have access to a networked PC lab...


Email client Nupop was quite well known

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