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History of SQL

Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

In this lesson, we'll take a look at SQL, what it is, how it's related to databases, and its history. At the end, you should have a good understanding of this common capability. Updated: 02/24/2020

We Need Information

Our world thrives on information, particularly in North America. You only have to look at a newscast, or weather report, to see that. We generate it in vast amounts, we store it for future use, and we analyze it constantly. You could almost say we are information junkies. We do this because we want to understand how our world works and make predictions about its behavior. But with the volumes we handle, this is no easy task. We need an efficient way to organize and manipulate it. One way we do that is through the use of a database, and SQL.

What Is a Database?

A database is an ordered collection of information. The information in the collection is related to a particular topic or theme. There are many examples of databases, and we use them frequently in our daily lives. As an example, consider the contact list on your cell phone. That is a database that contains the name, address, and telephone number for various people that you interact with. Or the transactions listed when you access your bank account over the Internet. That is a database that contains the date, transaction description, amount, and the balance for the financial activity you undertake. These examples represent ordered collections of information, but they need something to tie it all together. That is where SQL comes in.

What is SQL?

SQL, or Structured Query Language, is a computer language developed by IBM in the early 1970s. The language consists of various commands such as:

  • USE - allows you to select the particular database you will work on.
  • CREATE - allows you to create a new object in the database, such as a table.
  • INSERT - allows you to add information to the database.
  • ALTER - allows you to change the structure of an existing database.

These commands and the many others that exist can be combined in various ways. As the brief explanations suggest, the purpose of the language is to facilitate various operations on a database.

What Is the History of SQL?

As mentioned in the previous section, SQL's history goes back to the early 1970s. It has changed often over the years to become the standard it is today. Some of the more notable dates include:

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