Edgar F. Codd

What Does Edgar F. Codd Mean?

Edgar F. Codd was a British computer scientist who is credited with formulating the relational model for database management that became the basis for relational database management systems.


He added other important theories to computer science, but the relational model, a very important universal theory of data management, is considered his most important achievement. Between 1960 and 1980 he devised his theories of data arrangement, resulting in his paper A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks in 1970, one year after he published a paper inside IBM.

Techopedia Explains Edgar F. Codd

The ground-breaking feature of that model was the proposal to replace hierarchical or navigational database structures with simple tables made up of rows and column. This "feature" would seem fundamental to even the most junior DBA nowadays.

Though Codd is now viewed as a visionary, IBM first rejected his relational model in order to keep its revenue from IMS/DB. IBM eventually implemented the model through their System R database but refused to appoint Codd as a project manager, instead assigning a developer who was not very comfortable with Codd’s ideas, and isolated the development team from Codd. Instead of using Codd’s own Alpha language, the team created a non-relational one, SEQUEL. Even so, SEQUEL was so much better than pre-relational systems that it was imitated, based on pre-launch papers offered at conferences, by Larry Ellison in his Oracle Database, which actually made it to the market before SQL/DS — this is why the original name SEQUEL was replaced with SQL. E. F.

Codd’s contributions to the field of computing earned him many recognitions and awards, including the Turing Award in 1981 and an induction as a Fellow into the Association for Computing Machinery.


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Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.