The History of Database Management Systems - A Brief Overview

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What is a Database Management System?

What is a database management system? For many beginners either going to school or even picking up the basis of databases in general, this is an important question.

First, what is a database? It’s essentially a system that’s used to store, organize, and retrieve information or data. A database management system, or DBMS as it is sometimes known, is a program or group of programs that help with the maintenance, creation, and use of a database.

There are of course different types of DBMSs, as well as different languages in which a person can learn DBMS.

But where did database management systems come from? How does it relate to life today, with the increase of technology, the Internet, and everyone on it?

A History of Database Management Systems

The history of database management systems begins around the time that computers began taking off.

In the 1960’s the first DBMS was developed at IBM and was originally called IMS, written for the Apollo program.

Charles Bachman was an industrial researcher who developed a DBMS known as the Integrated Database Store (IDS). The system was standardized by CODASYL.

Not to be left out, IBM created their own database system, known IMS, for that of NASA’s Apollo space program. Both of these are now known as the precursors of navigational databases.

Then in the 1970s, another change was coming. The current systems were not easy to use. But then a man named Edgar Codd thought of a way to make things a bit easier. He wrote a paper entitled, A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks, in which he proposed replacing these current systems with that of tables and rows. This concept would become relational DBMS.

And this is where we are today.


Knowing this history, where are DBMS used today? Would you believe everywhere? That’s right - everything from banking transactions to online auctions - anything that deals with data and information is using some sort of database management system. And as technology grows, as more businesses and consumers get online for various reasons, you can expect more and more usage.


Charles Bachman

Database Systems

IBM Research News - Edgar Codd Passes Away

Image @ Microsoft