An anecdote about Codd on the "back side" of Wikipedia

From: Nicola <>
Date: Wed, 18 Mar 2015 21:41:38 +0100
Message-ID: <>

I have stumbled upon the Talk page about Codd in Wikipedia:

where a user has posted the following story:

«Starting in 1967, Luther J. Woodrum implemented a searchable patent database at IBM using the APL language. The database was arranged similar to a large No-SQL table with classes and sub-classes associated with the patent number. The classes and sub-classes represented the different searchable fields (columns), eg Inventor, Assignee, Filing Date, Claims, etc for any patent. The database held several million world-wide patents that were relevant to IBM's business interests. The API also had a Boolean based query capability which Luther described as n-tuple relational operators. Luther presented this as an example of a "database" system in 1970 at his Poughkeepsie IBM Education Center class. Ted Codd was a student in this class.»

This anecdote seems to imply that Codd may have been influenced by the work of L.J. Woodrum (of whom I've found only a couple of references in DBLP and a LinkedIn profile). Of course, in 1970 Codd had already written about the relational model (maybe the poster misremembering?), and applications of relational formalisms to data were not new (see the work by Levein and Maron, cited by Codd itself) but if the above were true, I think it would be interesting from a historical point of view, and it would be interesting to know more about that system at IBM.


Received on Wed Mar 18 2015 - 21:41:38 CET

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