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Home > Learn More > Tech > The History of Oracle

The History of Oracle

Oracle Corporation is in the top three of the line developers of enterprise software, but most do not know how they got their start or how they came to be so big. This is how Oracle came about. Thirty-two years ago, Larry Ellison noticed that companies were lacking something when it came to database software. He stumbled across a prototype that worked, yet no other company put any effort into this prototype.  Ellison and his co-founders Ed Oats and Bob Miner had their work cut out for them. With this prototype, they knew that they could and would change business computing forever. They were on to something.

They started out with a company named Software Development Laboratories (SDL) that picked up a contract with the CIA who needed a unique database software with the code name of “Oracle”.  SDL got inspired by a article in the IBM journal that was about an experimental relational database that worked in a ad hoc network.  They created one version for the CIA and finished it prior to the end of their contract with them. They then made their next move to reproduce a commercial version of the database system they created for the CIA. By the end of 1977, they produced the first relational database management system (RDBMS) for commercial use.

In 1978, they changed their name from SDL to Relational Software Inc (RSI). Ellison, Oats and Miner share a dream of a portable software that would work with IBM’s structured query language (SQL). With this dream in mind, they also want to market it to minicomputers. They thought that by working with minicomputers, that would give them a better lead compared to the mainframe computers and a more youthful following. Also with IBM being focused on mainframes, they wouldn’t give RSI a run for their money.

Though they created a commercial version of RDBMS in 1977, it didn’t go on sale until 1979. They named their database Oracle and released it at last in July of 1979 for commercial use. RSI had an early success with sales of Oracle, so many people start buying it for use, including two government agencies and Bell Labs.

In 1980, their sales grow even more as more minicomputers were being bought for work. In 1981, they work on making an updated version of RDBMS. They also released Interactive Application Facility (IAF) for running and generating transaction-processing forms for Oracle Forms. RSI worked on getting the new updated release of their RDBMS stabilized also during 1981.

Starting in 1982 RSI changed their name yet again, this time after their famous RDBMS database: Oracle Systems Corporation (later they shorten it just to Oracle Corporation). Oracle version 2.3 supported even more minicomputers and processors.  After that, their 35 fulltime programmers were hard at work writing and testing their latest version to allow them to transfer between mainframes and PCs.

In 1983, they release Oracle 3. In 1984, more business started using Oracle and they released their 4th version of it that year. Oracle 5 was released in 1985 and was the first RDBMS that had both client and server modes.

In 1987, they acquired TCI and their projects, and they also released a support service and consulting line for Oracle that year.

In 1989 they were listed for the first time in Standard & Poor’s 500 list. By 1990, their sales had doubled during the previous 10 years.

During the next 19 years, they faced challenges and over come them, but they also had many successes. They are in fact, still going strong.

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