The History of SQL

The history of SQL

Have you ever wondered how SQL came to be? I have.

This is why I decided to put together an article on the history of SQL and share so we can all learn together.

Before there was SQL, databases were designed around a network known as CODASYL (Committee on Data Systems Languages). A data model that was responsible for the COBOL programming.

Records to data were navigated in a CODASYL database by using sets, which represent one-to-many relationships. In older hierarchical databases, a record could only belong to one set. A record may belong to multiple sets in a network database.

SQL has a long history, dating back over half a century. The relational database model was defined by IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) researcher Edgar F. Codd in 1969, and it served as the foundation for the development of the SQL language. This model is based on the association of common pieces of information (or “keys”) with various data. A username, for example, may be linked to a real name and a phone number.

In order to secure the profits of its CODASYL database IMS/DB, IBM was reluctant to adopt a relational database. When IBM eventually began work on System R, the development team (Don Chamberlin and Ray Boyce) were not under Codd’s supervision, so they dismissed Codd’s 1971 Alpha relational language paper in favor of creating their own language, SEQUEL (Structured English Query Language). Larry Ellison incorporated the language in his Oracle database in 1979, before IBM had even published its product (using IBM’s pre-launch SEQUEL publications as his specification). To stop a patent infringement, SEQUEL was renamed SQL.

In the late 1980s, SQL was so appealing that many database vendors slapped a SQL query processor on top of their CODASYL databases, much to Codd’s dismay.

It was easier to forego the execution speed and memory use that was common to the use of CODASYL to the introduction of SQL which had two main reasons for this: portability and ease of production. In 1980, performance and memory requirements mattered, but as computer hardware improved and became more affordable, people became less concerned about execution speed and memory and more concerned about development costs.

Today, Structured Query Language, commonly known as SQL, is a standard programming language for relational databases. Despite being older than many other types of code, it is the most widely implemented database language.

I hope you learnt from this article!



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