History of Database Technology Past and Present
The term database was popularized with the growth of the computer industry and is typically thought of as software used to store, index, manipulate, and retrieve information (Vaughn). Database software has been in use since the Census Bureau used a punch card system to meet the requirements for the collection, sorting, and reporting of data for the 1890 census (National Research Council). These earliest databases were flat file databases. The flat-file style of database works well for small amounts of data that need to be organized to be read and edited by hand. Flat file databases are made up of tables that store a set number of characters in each field. The individual tables are not linked and are difficult to search and navigate. In order to view a particular record in a flat file database, the end user would have to sequentially navigate through all the records that came before it. In addition, the system itself does not detect when a file is being used or modified. Therefore, if two or more users are simultaneously accessing the data, it is possible for a data to be erased by multiple processes that are fighting to save new data at the same time. Although flat file databases are still in use today, they are not commonly used to store large amounts of compact data, due to the propensity for data corruption and the difficulties inherent in accessing records (Wise).
In 1970, Edgar Codd wrote several papers outlining in theory a new approach to database construction that would use a table of records and a unique identifier called a ¡§key¡¨ to search for related records within the table. Codd demonstrated that such a system could provide sets of data in a single operation without the need for the end user navigation required by earlier flat file models. Codd¡¦s theory resulted in the introduction of relational database management systems. Relational databases organize information in multiple tables...
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