David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science
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:
- Pre-1970- many query languages were developed, but none of them were significant enough to become a standard.
- 1970s - IBM creates a query language that came to be known as Structured Query Language (SQL) during this period.
- 1986 - SQL becomes an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard.
- 1987 - SQL becomes an International Standards Organization (ISO) standard.
- Post-1987 - features are continually added to the language, and it becomes the commonly used and accepted.
Today, many companies have products that incorporate SQL behind-the-scenes, and a few have Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) that use SQL to control and manipulate these product offerings. Some examples include; IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, and Postgres.
To recap, a database is an ordered collection of information that is related to a particular topic or theme. SQL stands for Structured Query Language and was developed by IBM in the early 1970s. There are many commands in the language including; USE, CREATE, INSERT, and ALTER. SQL history goes back a number of years. Some of the more notable dates include; Pre-1970, 1970s (IBM creates SQL), 1986 (SQL becomes an ANSI standard), 1987 (SQL becomes an ISO standard), and lastly Post-1987, where features are continually added to the language and it becomes commonly used and accepted.
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