History of database

Essay by mrshizA, April 2003

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Founding the Future

Like a lot of technologies in the computer industry, the foundations of relational databases can be tracked back to IBM in the 1960's and 70's, and their research into automating office functions. It was during this period in history that firms discovered that it was becoming far too expensive to hire the number of people required do certain jobs, such as storing and indexing files, and that it was worth the investment to fund research into to cheaper, and more efficient mechanical solutions.

A large amount of research was conducted during this period, with the hierarchical, network and relational models being invented along with a large number of other database models and a lot of the computer technology which is in use today.

In 1970 an IBM researcher named Ted Codd published the first article on relational databases. This article outlined a way to use relational calculus and algebra to allow non-technical users to store and retrieve large amounts of information.

Codd envisaged a system where the user would be able to access information with English like commands, and where information would be stored in tables.

Due to the technical nature of the article, and the reliance on mathematics to support its case, the significance of it was not realized immediately. However, it did lead to IBM starting a research group known as 'System R'.

System R is a database system built as a research project at IBM San Jose Research (now IBM Almaden Research Center) in the 1970's. System R introduced the SQL language and also demonstrated that a relational system could provide good transaction processing performance

The 'System R' project was expected to create a relational database system which would eventually become a product. Its early prototype was used experimentally by several organizations, such as...