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Chapter 23. A Database Primer > What Is a Database?

What Is a Database?

In 1970, E. F. Codd, an employee with IBM, proposed his idea for what would become the first relational database design model. His model, which proposed new methods for storing and retrieving data in large applications, far surpassed any idea or system that was in place at that time. His idea of “relational” stemmed from the fact that data and relationships between them were organized in “relations,” or what we know today as tables. Even though Codd's terminology of what we refer to as tables, columns, and rows was different, the premise behind the relational model has remained consistent. Although the model has undergone revisions and changes over the past 35 years, the idea of storing and retrieving information in large applications has not changed, solidifying the need for the relational database model.

The best way to think of a database is in terms of a filing cabinet. The filing cabinet contains drawers, the drawers contain folders, and the folders contain documents that have information on them. A database is similar in concept. A database contains drawers, otherwise known as tables; those tables contain folders, or columns, which in turn contain rows of information pertaining to the particular column that they're in.


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