Re: Date's First Great Blunder

From: Dawn M. Wolthuis <>
Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2004 16:36:25 -0500
Message-ID: <c64551$kol$>

"Hugo Kornelis" <hugo_at_pe_NO_rFact.in_SPAM_fo> wrote in message
> On Tue, 20 Apr 2004 08:20:24 -0500, Dawn M. Wolthuis wrote:
> >"Laconic2" <> wrote in message
> >
> >> I expect that, if you dig deep enough, you'll find that the terms
> >> "hierarchical data model" and "network data model" predate the
> >relational
> >> data model.
> >>
> >> These are just two places to start the search.
> >
> >I've searched -- I haven't found them. My assessment is that there
> >certainly could have been a person who uttered the words "hierarchical
> >database" when talking about IMS prior to 1970, but so far I have not
> >anything in writing referring to hierarchical or network database prior
> >Codd's 1970 ACM paper. I suspect it is historically accurate that
> >relational theorists coined these terms or at least standardized on them
> >discussions of why relational was a better strategy. If someone has
> >evidence to the contrary, I'm very interested.
> Hi Dawn,
> Even if someone could find hard proof that the terms hierarchical and
> network database were never used prior to 1970, that would still not
> proof that these are marketing terms, nor that they stem from the
> "relational camp".
> When the first computers were built, nobody called them "mainframe".
> That term was only introduces when mini computers started to appear.
> Is the term "mainframe" a marketing term, invented by the producers of
> minicomputers? Or is it just a term that was needed to be able to
> distinguish a new type of computers from an old type?
> I've had a personal computer for years without ever referring to it as
> a "desktop". That word was introduced when the first laptop computers
> were introduced? A marketing term, introduced by the producers of
> laptop computers? Or just a word that turend out to be helpful in
> distinguishing the differend sizes of computers?
> The introduction of the relational model meant the introduction of a
> completely different kind of database. So, there had to be a way to
> distinguish between the "old" database structure and the "new"
> database structure. And I must admit that the terms "hierarchic" and
> "network" describe the storage model of those databases quite
> accurately.
> A real marketeer would probably not have invented these words. (S)he
> would have referred to the relational databases as "new" and to all
> others as "old".
> Groetjes, Hugo

Thanks for piping up 'cause I'm clearly not being crisp in my point (I know, I know, I've had the problem before).

I complete agree that this was not anything dreamed up by marketing folks. But in doing my own mini-research to identify anything other than the data model that has made relational databases take the king-of-the-hill position, the classification of all of the competition and then subsequent claims that such were clearly "wrong" turned out to be one of the things that contributes to compacting all of the history of databases into a couple of terms -- hierarchical and network -- for efforts prior to 1970.

Do you know of ANY database textbooks at the undergraduate level (or even graduate for that matter) that discuss databases stemming from the Nelson-PICK approach? I doubt it -- one reason is that there is no formal definition of it and another is that it is supposedly right there with IMS under "hierarchical". I've worked with IMS and with PICK-alikes extensively and there is almost nothing similar about them. I can understand a desire to have a formal model, BUT PICK databases have been operational for almost 40 years and yet they don't even make the list of what is out there. This is not based on a conscious effort to keep them out, but the language that we use for describing databases that are not relational does play a part in such omissions.
> Sorry, vandaag geen grappige sig lines meer.
dito. dag. Received on Tue Apr 20 2004 - 23:36:25 CEST

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