You get access to the "up and running" line, which will only answer questions related to installing Delphi and getting it to run on your machine. The long hold times that were common when Delphi was first released seem to have improved--the current average seems to be about five minutes or so.
In order to get what borland calls "consultative" tech support (I.E. someone with whom you can discuss reasons why a program is not working), you have to pay $2/minute. You can call (900) 555-1015 and have the charges put on your phone bill, or else (800) 330-3372 and use a credit card. I have called twice, and they couldn't answer my question either time; however, they didn't charge me for the calls.
They don't ship those manuals with Delphi because of their size. The component library reference is over 1000 pages. You can get all this information from the on-line help, or you can ftp the manuals from Borland in Acrobat format, or you can order the actual books for an additional charge.
Delphi is capable of making calls to and receiving callbacks from any standard Windows DLL. In addition, it is said to be possible (though rather tricky) to get Delphi to access classes within C++ DLLs. Borland's WWW server has instructions on how to do this. I wasn't able to get it to work, but I think that's because I have weird DLLs.
Delphi can generate DLLs, which can be called from C, C++, Visual Basic, Powerbuilder, or anything else that understands standard Windows DLLs. There is an example of a database-capable DLL in the DEMOSDBDLL directory.
As is the case in all Windows programming languages that I know of, DLLs are difficult to debug and will crash your system if they aren't quite right. Save your source code frequently.
In general, you have to go to "BDE Config" and define an alias for the database you want to connect to. This allows you to avoid hard-coding a directory path into your application; you just refer to the alias. Then, you create a minimum of three objects on the desktop: A Query or Table object that actually talks to the alias and gets some data; a Data Source object that links between the data and the controls, and at least one data-aware control.
If you've been trying for hours to get this to work, and no matter what you do you just don't see anything happening, try setting the "active" property on the Table or Query to "True." This will open the database. I have seen many people get caught out by this the first time they try it.