dBase II was the first widely used database management system (DBMS) for microcomputers. It was originally published by Ashton-Tate for CP/M, and later on ported to the Apple II and IBM PC under DOS. On the PC platform in particular it became one of the best-selling software titles for a number of years, propelling Ashton-Tate to become one of the "big three" software publishers in the early business software market. A major upgrade was released as dBASE III, and ported to a wider variety of platforms, adding UNIX, and VMS.
Starting in the mid 1980s many other companies produced their own dialects or variations on the product and language. These included FoxPro and Clipper/Harbour, together informally referred to as xBase. Many of these were technically stronger than dBase, but could not make a major dent in the market until dBase IV was introduced with many problems. This was coincident with an industry-wide switch to SQL and the client-server market, and the rapid introduction of Microsoft Windows in the business market. A combination of these factors led to rapid retrenchment in the xBase world, and the disappearance of Ashton-Tate with their sale to Borland in 1991. The rights to the dBase product line were sold in 1999 to the newly-formed dBase Inc. In 2004, dBase Inc. changed its name to dataBased Intelligence, Inc.
dBase's underlying file format, the .dbf file, is widely used in many other applications needing a simple format to store structured data.