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Susheel Thapa
Susheel Thapa

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History of Database

The Evolution of Databases

Humans have been storing information since ancient times. Early on, intricate database systems were crafted by government offices, libraries, hospitals, and business organizations. The foundational concepts and principles employed in constructing these systems have endured the test of time and continue to influence modern database technology.


  • Database Proliferation:

    In the mid-1960s, the increasing speed and flexibility of computers catapulted the popularity of general-use database systems.

  • COBOL Standardization:

    To meet the need for standardization, the Database Task Group took charge of designing Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL).

  • Cost-Effective Computing:

    Computerized databases gained traction as computing became a more cost-effective option for private organizations.

  • First Database Design:

    Charles Bachman made a significant contribution by designing the first-ever database, known as the Integrated Data Store, later adopted by IBM.

The first generation of databases was navigational, where applications accessed data by following pointers from one record to another. The 1960s marked a turning point as databases transitioned from a variety of systems to a more standardized approach, setting the stage for future advancements in database technology.


  • The Birth of Relational Databases

    E.F. Codd's groundbreaking paper, "A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks," published in the 1970s, introduced the concept of the relational database.

  • INgres and System R Prototypes

    In response to_ Codd's_ ideas, two major relational database system prototypes were developed between 1974 and 1977.

  • Recognition of RDBMS

    The term "Relational Database Management System" (RDBMS) gained recognition during this decade, highlighting the shift toward databases based on the relational model.

  • Entity-Relationship Model

    In 1976, a new database model called Entity-Relationship (ER) was proposed by P. Chen. This model encouraged designers to focus on the application of data rather than the logical table structure, providing a more intuitive approach to database design.

The 1970s laid the foundation for the widespread adoption of relational databases, revolutionizing the way data was organized and queried. The emergence of INgres, System R, and the Entity-Relationship model marked significant milestones in the evolution of database technology.


  • Commercial Success of Relational Databases:

    The 1980s witnessed the commercial success of relational database systems.

  • DB2 as IBM's Flagship:

    IBM's DB2 emerged as the flagship database product during this period. Its success was pivotal in establishing IBM as a major player in the database industry.

  • Impact of IBM PC:

    The introduction of the IBM PC in the 1980s had a profound impact. It led to the establishment of numerous database companies, fostering innovation and competition in the market.

  • Diversification of Database Products:

    The 1980s saw a proliferation of database products, including PARADOX, RBASE 5000, and others. This diversification reflected the dynamic nature of the evolving database landscape.

The 1980s marked a period of standardization with SQL, further solidifying the relational database model. The commercial success of databases, particularly with the prominence of IBM's DB2, and the diversification of products contributed to a vibrant and competitive database industry.


  • Decade of Advancement:

    The 1990s played a pivotal role in advancing databases and database software, shaping the landscape for the digital era.

  • Client Tools and Productivity:

    New client tools for application development emerged, including Oracle Developer, PowerBuilder, VB, and others. Simultaneously, tools for personal productivity such as ODBC and Excel/Access were developed, enhancing user capabilities.

  • Open Source Solutions:

    The use of open-source solutions gained momentum with the popularity of MySQL and Apache. This marked a significant shift, bringing cost-effective and accessible database solutions to the internet.

  • Birth of NoSQL:

    In 1998, Carlo Strozi coined the term "NoSQL" when naming his database, Strozzi NoSQL. The concept gained more attention in 2009 when Johan Oskarsson organized an event to discuss non-relational databases. NoSQL databases, known for their flexibility and suitability for unstructured data, began to gain prominence.

The 1990s were a transformative period, witnessing the integration of databases into various aspects of technology and laying the groundwork for the diverse and dynamic database landscape of the 21st century.

2000s - Present

  • Resilience of Database Applications:

    Despite a decline in the internet industry in the early 2000s, database applications continued to grow and adapt.

  • Dominance of Relational Databases:

    Presently, the three leading database companies in the Western world are Oracle, IBM, and SAP, highlighting the enduring importance of databases in the digital landscape.

  • Giant Relational Databases:

    Giant relational databases such as Oracle, MySQL, and DB2 maintain their prominence in the database market.

  • Quickbase and Online Database Platforms:

    Quickbase, an online database platform built on a relational database, exemplifies the contemporary trend of utilizing relational databases to create custom business applications. This platform empowers users with the ability to harness the relational database's


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"History of Databases," ResearchGate,

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