I'm probably going to mention Mike Stonebraker's name in one or more other blog entries soon, and not necessarily in the context of always agreeing with him. So I'd like to take a moment to point out that he's the greatest living contributor to database technology, and this may even have been true when Dr. E. F. "Ted" Codd was still alive.
Along with Eugene Wong and grad student Jerry Held, Mike founded and ran the INGRES research project at UC Berkely, which directly spun off the company later known as Ingres,
Oracle's chief direct competitor in its early years. One of his key lieutenants (and successors) was Bob Epstein, who designed Sybase
's database technology, which is also the core of Microsoft
's DBMS. Jerry Held went on to run much of development at Tandem
, starting with Non-Stop SQL, the first industrial-strength relational DBMS, and later ran the database products for Oracle
Mike himself went on with the POSTGRES project, which introduced an approach to user defined functions and abstract data types that swept the DBMS industry. POSTGRES begat Illustra, which was acquired by and became integral to the products of Informix
, where Mike also served as CTO. Informix's database technology was of course later taken over by IBM.
That's quite a track record, although there are also a couple of more or less failed startups along the way. His latest disclosed venture, which I'll write about soon, is Streambase
, a "stream processing" vendor for applications such as financial trading where real-time data analysis really DOES matter.
The IEEE awarded Mike its most recent John von Neumann medal, which seems to be a big deal. Here's the citation.
Related link: http://www.coe.berkeley.edu/labnotes/1003/history.html