My Life with Oracle

Everton Elliott, Senior Architect.

As an undergraduate student studying computer science, I became very interested in databases.

At the time, relational databases were a subject for books, especially C.J Date’s Introduction to Relational Databases.

There was a chapter on relational algebra. I chose to implement a working version of relational algebra as my final year project. It sounds easy but I decided that, for convenience, I would develop the project on a micro computer (PC), using Pascal. The main issue was having only 64kb of memory.

Some time later, and after a few job changes, I landed a software development job with an American company, CINCOM. They developed and sold database software for IBM mainframes and DEC VAX computers.

The UK office was responsible for development of the non-mainframe versions of the software; VAX, IBM PC, Solaris, etc. What made me decide to join was that they had just started a project in trying to enter the relational database market.

My project was to write a SQL interface to the old database engine. Everybody wanted SQL. By this time Oracle was (I think) at version 5, and taking the world by storm. Even IBM had to license it, because their own SQL offering was still in research, although they had kicked off the rush to relational databases with System/R.

Like many of the best internet technologies, Oracle caught a break through a government agency (the CIA in this case). They wanted a more searchable database. In those days IBM offered IMS, a very programmatic hierarchical database which had little to no ad hoc query capabilities.  Larry Ellison and a colleague won the contract to provide the required system for ‘project Oracle’. They had read papers about relational theory, and decided this was the best way to go.

In the end, the CIA didn’t pursue the project past the research stage. But Larry Ellison continued to develop it, and brought it to market. He called the company Oracle after its first product and the CIA project name. And as computers got smaller and more powerful, Oracle got bigger.

Over the years, my interest in Oracle products has not waned. Every major release is a ground-breaking application of technology, from containerisation to the use of the cloud.

At Finworks, we use the full power of Oracle in our projects. We use OracleXe for small databases using oracle SQL dialect, and Oracle12c multi tenant in development and production environments to make best use of server resources. We also have projects running on Oracle EXADATA.

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