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History and Evolution - MySQL

Today, Vikram shows us the basics of a database and are introduced to concepts like Database Management Systems and Relational Database Management Systems. We are also given a thorough overview of MySQL and its features. This excerpt comes from chapter one of MySQL: The Complete Reference, by Vikram Vaswani (McGraw-Hill/Osborne, ISBN 0-07-222477-0, 2004).

  1. Introduction to Databases
  2. The Big Picture
  3. Database Management Systems
  4. The Challenge
  5. ...And the Little Database that Could
  6. History and Evolution
  7. Features
  8. More Features
  9. Even More Features
  10. Applications
  11. Summary
By: McGraw-Hill/Osborne
Rating: starstarstarstarstar / 61
February 23, 2004

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MySQL came into being in 1979, when Michael “Monty” Widenius created a database system named UNIREG for the Swedish company TcX. UNIREG didn’t, however, have a Structured Query Language (SQL) interface—something that caused it to fall out of favor with TcX in the mid-1990s. So TcX began looking for alternatives. One of those alternatives was mSQL, a competing DBMS created by David Hughes.

mSQL didn’t work for TcX, however, so Widenius decided to create a new database server customized to his specific requirements. That system, completed and released to a small group in May 1996, became the first version of what is today known as MySQL.

A few months later, MySQL 3.11 saw its first public release as a binary distribution for Solaris. Linux source and binaries followed shortly; an enthusiastic developer community and a friendly, General Public License (GPL)-based licensing policy took care of the rest. (For the story from the horse’s mouth, look at http://www.linuxjournal.com/article.php?sid=3609.) Today, MySQL is available for a wide variety of platforms, including Linux, MacOS, andWindows, in both source and binary form.

A few years later, TcX spun off MySQL AB, a private company that today is the sole owner of the MySQL server source code and trademark and is responsible for maintenance, marketing, and further development of the MySQL database server.

Widenius remains at the helm of the ship, and together with David Axmark and Allan Larsson, they are ably supported in their efforts to improve and enhance MySQL by both a full-time staff and the active support of a worldwide developer community.

What’s in a Name?

Wondering where the name MySQL came from? An entry in the MySQL manual (http://www.mysql.com/doc/en/History.html) suggests that even MySQL’s developers don’t know the origin: “The derivation of the name MySQL is not perfectly clear. Our base directory and a large number of our libraries and tools have had the prefix ‘my’ for well over 10 years. However, Monty’s daughter (some years younger) is also named My. Which of the two gave its name to MySQL is still a mystery, even for us.”

Remember: this is chapter one of MySQL: The Complete Reference, by Vikram Vaswani (McGraw-Hill/Osborne, ISBN 0-07-222477-0, 2004). Vikram is the founder of Melonfire, and has had numerous articles featured on Dev Shed.
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