Origin of row/column based database software

From: Bob Lafleur <bob_lafleur_at_technologist.com>
Date: Wed Aug 18 11:21:26 2004

I'm curious as to the origin of database software that allows display/edit
of the data in a row/column format.

All early PC based database software that I had exposure to layed out each
record one at a time on the screen, as a "form". You could only view/edit
one record at a time. Such programs for the Apple were pfs:FILE, CCA-DMS,
and VisiFile.

In the summer of 1981 I wrote a replacement for the "maintenance" module of
VisiFile that looked like a spreadsheet, and displayed all the data records
as rows, and fields in columns. I had never seen any other software do this
with a database, although to me it seemed like a natural thing to do, given
the popularity of spreadsheets.

Now, just about all database software displays data in the row/column
metaphor. But was my program the first? I have to admit that my exposure to
other database systems was pretty limited in that period - for example, I
have never used any mainframe database systems at all.

Out of curiosity, does anyone have any examples of DATABASE software that
uses the row/column metaphor before the summer of 1981?

It would be neat to think that my idea spurred what is now commonplace in
databases, although I have to admit that it's a pretty easy mental jump from
a spreadsheet to a row/column display of database idea, so it's more likely
that others came to the same conclusion, and didn't copy my software!

   - Bob
Received on Wed Aug 18 2004 - 11:21:26 BST

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