Origin of row/column based database software

From: Patrick/VCM SysOp <patrick_at_vintagecomputermarketplace.com>
Date: Wed Aug 18 12:00:58 2004


I used Ingres and Britton-Lee in the late 70's. They were certainly not the
first. COBOL supports row/column data natively (records and fields), so the
concept is at least as old as its presence in the language (1960's?).
Accountants have used tabular forms for their data for centuries
(millenia?), so I'd imagine that as it relates to computers and databases,
this is probably one of the earliest forms of data storage.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: cctalk-bounces_at_classiccmp.org
> [mailto:cctalk-bounces_at_classiccmp.org] On Behalf Of Bob Lafleur
> Sent: Wednesday, August 18, 2004 9:21 AM
> To: 'General Discussion: On-Topic and Off-Topic Posts'
> Subject: Origin of row/column based database software
> 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 - 12:00:58 BST

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