SQL History and Implementation

In the early 1970′s, the seminal work of IBM research fellow Dr. E. F. Codd led to the development of a relational database product called SEQUEL, or Structured English Query Language. SEQUEL due to some legal hurdles was changed to ultimately SQL, or the Structured Query Language.

IBM, along with other database vendors, wanted a standardized method for accessing and manipulating data in a relational database. Although IBM was the first to develop relational database theory, Oracle is widely credited with being first to market and popularize the technology.

Over time, SQL proved popular enough in the marketplace to attract the attention of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  The standards body released standards for SQL in 1986, 1989, 1992, 1999, 2003, and 2006. The ANSI 2003 release is the most popular version of the standard.  More recent releases, such as  2006 standard, deal with specific sub-elements of SQL, many times outside of the scope of the normal relational database behavior.  For example, the SQL2006 standard describes how XML would be used in SQL.

Since 1986, various competing languages have allowed programmers and developers to access and to manipulate relational data. However, few were as easy to learn nor as universally accepted as SQL.  In fact as new, so-called NoSQL database platforms emerge, many quickly implement SQL-like dialects to ride the widespread momentum of global community of users.  A good example of this is PIG, the SQL-like dialect used by Hadoop/HBase databases.

Programmers and administrators now have the benefit of being able to learn a single language that, with minor adjustments, is applicable to a wide variety of database platforms, applications, and products.



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