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Memorial Tributes, Volume 12
EDGAR F. CODD 1923–2003
Elected in 1981
“For the origination of the relational approach to theorganization of large data bases.”
BY C. J. DATE
SUBMITTED BY THE NAE HOME SECRETARY
BY NOW ALMOST EVERYONE in the database community is aware that Dr. E.F. Codd passed away on April 18, 2003, at the age of 79. Dr. Codd, known universally as Ted to his colleagues and friends—among whom I am proud to count myself—singlehandedly put the field of database management on a solid scientific footing. The entire relational database industry, now worth many billions of dollars a year, owes its existence to Ted’s original work; the same is true of all relational database research and teaching programs in universities and similar organizations worldwide. Indeed, all of us who work in this field owe our careers and livelihoods to Ted’s contributions from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. This tribute to Ted and his achievements is offered in recognition of the great debt we all owe him.
Ted began his computing career in 1949 as a programming mathematician for IBM working on the selective-sequence electronic calculator. He subsequently participated in the development of several important IBM products, including the 701 (IBM’s first commercial electronic computer) and STRETCH, which led to IBM’s 7090 mainframe technology. Then, in the late 1960s, he turned his attention to the problem of database management—and over the next few years he created the relational model of data, with which his name will forever be associated.