Databases: A History of Places to Put Your Stuff

A presentation at Chicago Open Source Data Infrastructure Meetup - June 2024 in in Chicago, IL, USA by Matt Stratton

We rely on context a lot as software engineers, passing state around so one function knows what the last did, and how it was impacted by the one before that, and on and on. Without passing around context, a lot of things would be much more difficult to build, or at least much more wordy. People need context too. Sure, we’re smarter than a function that only knows how to do one thing, and we can figure it out eventually, but it’s easier to learn a new tool or concept if someone gives us the historical context.

Databases have been around for a long time! Longer than you might think, in fact. Having the context of the evolution and history of how data has been stored, accessed, and operated helps us understand why things might work (or not work!) the way that they do. In this talk, Matty and Kat will take you on a journey through the history of databases and how they’ve changed and evolved - which should help give you some insight into the technical hurdles and pain points that led to where we are today. You’ll come away with the historical context of databases!


The following resources were mentioned during the presentation or are useful additional information.