I ordered Finale 1.0 when it arrived in 1988. It cost $1000, and one ordered it from a local dealer who would then mentor the purchaser through how Finale worked (at least that was the plan). It came with outstanding printed documentation, in three separate volumes, beautifully illustrated.
Phil Ferrand had learned to program in C++ in order to realize his vision. It was brilliant; a database where everything was stored.
However, the difference between the vision and the reality was often a wide one. The program crashed a lot; the database could become confused, one had to conform to the logic of the program . . . there was no other choice. Slurs were drawn on the page, and they might move from one session to another. Articulations didn’t always stay where they were placed either. Everything was in a primitive state in comparison to what we expect today. No dynamic parts. No easy way to do cues. No PDFs. One printed .eps files, which were very large and often became corrupted.
Finale 1.0 was only for Macintosh. Those of us with early PCs had to make an investment in a Mac, the SE30 at the time. 1 MB of RAM, no hard drive, one floppy drive, and it cost over $4,000. 9-inch monochrome screen.
Why all the ancient history? Some people know only Finale and Sibelius. When I bought Sibelius in the late 1990s, one had to purchase an Acorn RISC-PC computer, and Sibelius 7 was installed. It was very fast. Great computer. Great program. But slurs were still drawn on the screen between notes, and one couldn’t copy between files. It matured.
Then there was Graphire Music Press. Great graphics. I could call the programmer with questions.
And Igor Engraver. Great use of AI, but glacial interaction between input and what appeared on the screen.
SCORE for the PC. It was written in Fortran in the 1970s and still has the best spacing routines. It has command line input like Lilypond, but each item on the page could be changed by up to 18 parameters.
And there were many others . . . many others. I didn’t mention Notion because I could never make it look “engraved” enough for my clients.
Each of these programs was the brainchild of one person, or in the case of Sibelius, two people. With the notable exception of SCORE, which remains because a small number of engravers keep it alive, only Finale and Sibelius remain. Notion, too. They others never had the opportunity to mature.
The birth is [relatively] easy. It’s what comes next: the painstaking addition of features that really work, that will tell whether Dorico or any other music notation program survives.
At one time, the only word processor worth mentioning was MS Word. Now there are dozens of word processors, a fair number of page layout programs, vector drawing programs, etc., all vying for our attention.
I have had the good fortune of watching Dorico develop from the beginning. I had no illusions that it would be #1 right out of the gate, far from it. But I also understood that the depth of understanding of music notation was much deeper than anything that came before it, and I believe that it will become the premiere music notation software in short order. Be patient. Learn it. Understand it.