Friday, August 1, 2008

PL/SQL features by release

A Mini-History of Oracle and PL/SQL

This chapter answers two questions: where did PL/SQL come from and why is it the best database development language ever developed?

In the late 70s, around the time Ingres was getting started at UC Berkeley, three guys working on a contract for the CIA got together and started a company called Relational Software, Inc.

Their first product was a relational database called Oracle. The founders decided to use the C language for development. This would later become important when they decided to start porting to different platforms.

They also decided to support SQL as the internal data access language. This would also become a very important factor to its success. In 1979, Relational Software was the only company making an SQL compliant database. If anyone ever asks you who wrote the first SQL database, you now know the answer: Oracle.

To access the database, to write an application for example, you had to use an external language and compiler. In the early days of Oracle, that was C but, in time, several other languages were added: COBOL, ADA, Fortran, PL/1, and others.

In the early 1980s, the company was renamed Oracle Corporation. That would just be the beginning of Oracle’s desire to rename its products. In my time using the Oracle database, I think every tool I have used has been renamed at least once. In the case of CDE/Developer 2000/Developer Suite, it has been renamed enough to be confusing.

Oracle did not have an embedded language for many years. Having come from a government background, when they chose a language for the database, they modeled it on ADA.

I programmed in ADA for a few years in the 1980s while I was working as a consultant for the US Department of Defense. It is a very powerful, but very wordy, object oriented language. ADA, and by extension PL/SQL, are descendants of Pascal.

Oracle named this new language PL/SQL; the Procedural Language extension to SQL. I pronounce it pee ell sequel but many others pronounce it pee ell ess que ell. Feel free to pronounce it however you like though.

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