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VP-Info is a database language for the personal computer.[1] VP-Info was a competitor to the Clipper and dBase applications in the late 1980s and 1990s.[2] VP-Info runs on MS-DOS, DR-DOS and the PC-MOS/386 operating system. It can be run on modern computers using an emulator such as DOSBox or dbDOS. The last release of VP-Info was named Shark.


In the early 80s, David Clark met Dr. George Gratzer, a mathematics professor[3] at the University of Manitoba, at ComputerLand in Winnipeg where Dr Gratzer was looking for someone who could program in dBase. Mr Clark had been using dBase II, but was frustrated by its limitations for reporting on more than 2 tables at a time. While working for Standard Knitting (a client of Dr. Gratzer's and Mr Clark's), David wrote a report generator called dComp that would allow up to six related data files to be in use at one time and run faster than the slow, dBase II. Mr Clark and Mr Gratzer subsequently formed a partnership in a company called "Sub Rosa" that developed dComp into a full dBase II compatible language/database called Max that had more speed and "power tools" than even dBase III contained. Mr Clark designed and developed the program while Dr Gratzer wrote the reference and tutorial manuals. This product was published by Paperback Software and sold over 30,000 copies (worldwide) in 1987 alone. The published reference manual for VP-Info was over 900 pages and the program was distributed in an extra thick back cover which was an innovation for all Paperback Software products at that time.[4]

For programmers, Max had several interesting capabilities, including the ability to change field names easily, to represent fields in array form, automatically execute code while moving from field to field and many tools like cross tabs. With its built-in editor, a programmer could go from edit to executing the program in 2 keystrokes and back to editing the program with just 2 more.[5]


Paperback Software International Ltd. acquired worldwide marketing rights to Max and launched it as VP-Info in 1986. Lotus Development Corp. objected to some of the features of VP-Planner 3D, a Lotus look-alike with a number of features beyond those of 1-2-3, and sued Paperback Software for copyright infringement in 1989. Though the lawsuit ultimately failed in the courts, Paperback Software eventually folded following the litigations.

Sub Rosa Inc. reacquired worldwide distribution rights to VP-Info shortly before it entered bankruptcy. Mr. Bursten and an associate, Bernie Melman of Toronto, established Sub Rosa Publishing Inc. in Toronto and Sub Rosa Corporation in Minneapolis and attempted to get VP-Info back into distribution. Since the name belonged to the bankrupt Paperback Software, however, they had to give it yet another name, and Shark (or Sharkbase) was introduced in 1992 as an upgrade to VP-Info.[6]


VP-Info can read and write all the common dBase/Clipper file formats, as well as exchange data with OpenOffice. VP-Info can read and write any type of dbf files (e.g. dBase II,III,IV, Clipper) at the same time. Unlike the older dBase file formats, VP-Info dbf files can have an unlimited number of records. VP-Info has a built-in compiler for fast execution.

An online User's Manual for the latest distribution of VP-Info, Sharkbase, is still maintained.[7] VP-Info, and subsequent Sharkbase versions, can run on all versions of Windows up to Windows 10, though one must use the Windows 10 virtual machine to provide a usable environment. It has been reported that it runs under later Windows versions using the DOSBox MS-DOS emulator, or the multi-user VM dbDOS,[8] and it can also run on multi-user/multi-tasking systems with NetBIOS over TCP/IP such as dbDOS. VP-Info dbf files can be opened, modified and saved by Apache Open Office using Open Office Calc.


  1. ^ Bursten,Melman,Gratzer 1990-1992, Shark User's Guide. rev. ed. 1992, Sub Rosa Corporation, Minneapolis USA
  2. ^ Petreley, Nicholas (March 9, 1987). "Low-Cost Dbase II Competitor Is Fast, Powerful". Info World. pp. 49–52. Retrieved January 24, 2012. 
  3. ^ Gratzer, George (Oct 4, 2013). "Math Into LaTeX". Springer Publishing. Retrieved October 15, 2014. 
  4. ^ Bursten,Melman,Gratzer 1990-1992, Shark User's Guide. rev. ed. 1992, Sub Rosa Corporation, Minneapolis USA, "Introduction" page i
  5. ^ Petreley, Nicholas (March 9, 1987). "Low-Cost Dbase II Competitor Is Fast, Powerful". Info World. pp. 49–52. Retrieved January 24, 2012. 
  6. ^ http://www.foxprohistory.org/vp-info_sharkbase_by_subrosa.htm
  7. ^ Shark/VP-Info Reference Manual: http://www.intelligentwebware.com/SHARK/shark-ref.html
  8. ^ DOSbox MS-DOS emulator: http://www.dosbox.com/wiki/Software