Oh how time flies. Time was when FoxPro was the biggest of the big when it came to database tools. Time was when dbase people fought violently with FoxPro users over superiority. But now, for some reason, it doesn't garner the attention it once did. But that doesn't mean it never changed the world.
FoxPro may have been an unknown to the rest of us, but in database circles it made quite an impact in its short life. It began in 1989 as an alternative to the then king dBase III+; It was part of a line of products written by Dave Fulton, a professor at Bowling Green State University, the previous projects being FoxBASE and FoxBASE+ which were alternatives for distributing dBase III apps.
When Ashton-Tate sued Fox Software, Fulton's company, in 1988 after FoxBASE+ gained popularity, the decision was made to stop making dbase workalikes and go for a totally new product. This would be FoxPro which would hit the world later in 1989. It supported a subset of dbase IV commands, but was still completely different from Ashton-Tate's product.
Development continued and popularity expanded until June of 1992, when the coming king of desktop apps, Microsoft, merged with (read: bought out) Fox Software for a reported $173 million. In 1993 the first Microsoft Windows version was released with MS taking credit for it, though in reality Fox already had the version finished in-house before the Microsoft buy-out.
After Fulton retired from Microsoft (a millionaire) in 1995, the name was changed from FoxPro to Visual FoxPro to match the lineup of the other Microsoft developer tools like Visual Basic, Visual C++ and Visual Interdev. The Visual product also added object capabilities and other "modern" facilities that programmers take for granted.
Versions continued to go out the door after that, from VFP 3.0 to 5.0 (4.0 was skipped) and then to 6.0. The funny thing here is that the pre-Microsoft versions were still wildly popular; July of 1999, support for 2.x versions of FoxPro was officially discontinued and all support was halted in February of 2000 (to allow for Y2K patches). The FoxPro 2.x line has the happy fortune of being the longest supported legacy version of any Microsoft Product with a life span of almost 10 years.
Hey, look, Visual FoxPro 7.0 is out the door. And it's out of the Visual Studio too. Will we ever see a Visual FoxPro.net? Who knows?