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Issue 19.4 ('SpeedTest')
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The Blob

My background and a brief history of databases

Issue: 19.4 (July/August 2021)
Author: Vince Du Beau
Author Bio: Vince is an experienced Filemaker developer. He is exploring Xojo as an alternative to Filemaker.
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,718
Starting Page Number: 84
Article Number: 19409
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Excerpt of article text...

Long before databases came into vogue, we used keyed or indexed files to find specific records. My first real experience came when I was hired by a hospital as the lead programmer. They had just purchasd a Univac computer and bought the rights to the software that another hospital had written. Univac provided a team of analysts to help with the conversion. They had converted the original IBM IMS database to a Univac DMS database.

The hospital had also hired a business analyst and a DBA. Eventually they both left. That was when I took over the job of DBA and discovered how poorly she did her job. Part of the project was monitoring the DB activity. The admitting office complained that trying to find a patient's name was taking two to three minutes. I printed out the database schema and started to redesign it. When I was done, the access time for admissions was down to no more than 20 seconds.

I decided that this database thing was really cool!

I eventually left the job when they decided to bring in a different computer. I got a consulting gig at AT&T doing queries and some occasional COBOL programming on the database for the "choose your long distance carrier" campaign.The queries used Univac's Query Language Processor or QLP. I later realized how similar QLP was to what became SQL.

A Brief History of Databases

The first real type of DBMS was the hierachical model developed in the 1960's by IBM. You developed your database by writing a schema in a data definition language (DDL). This was usually a COBOL-like syntax, although I have seen them written in Fortran, PL/1, Pascal, and C. The schema was then compiled to create the database instance which your programs would connect to.

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