Q & A was a dual purpose software system published by Symantec, and written by a team headed by Symantec founder Dr. Gary Hendrix, Denis Coleman, and Gordon Eubanks in the 1980s and into the 1990s for MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows. The system provided both a word processor and a database.
Initially released by Symantec in 1985 for IBM-compatible systems, Q&A's flat-file database and integrated word processing application is cited as a significant step towards making computers less intimidating and more user friendly. Among its features was a natural language search function based on a 600 word internal vocabulary.
Version 3.0 was released in the spring of 1988. Users of this version could simultaneously use a database on a local area network. Data records were locked so that users could be editing different records at the same time. If user A were editing a record it was locked from other users who would see a message saying user A was editing it and would not be able to edit it themselves. Stored reports and other specifications could be edited at the same time also with the same mechanism. Reports could be run and even if they ran slowly their results would be drawn from a consistent set of data as it appeared at the time the report began to execute, rather than include edits made during the time the report ran. This multiuser functionality was described by Symantec as new to the low-end PC database market.
With a function called XLOOKUP, Q&A 3.0 could be programmed to bring values from an external database into the currently open one -- a step toward relational database functionality.