The History of Oracle: 1977 - 2000

Jon Cowling 09-Feb-2016 15:19:53

The History of Oracle: 1977 – 2000

Oracle Corporation has come a long way to become the multinational technology company that it is today. Its rich history tracks its progress through the development and marketing of computer hardware systems, enterprise software and Oracle itself, the world renowned database technology.


On 16th June 1977 Software Development Laboratories (SDL) were created in Santa Clare, California by Larry Ellison, Bob Miner and Ed Oates. By 1978 the first ever Oracle was born, written in assembly language running on PDP-11 under RSX-11 in 128K of memory. Oracle version 1 was never officially released, and the implementation separated Oracle code from user code. Oracle was christened thus as it was the code name of a CIA project that all three original founders worked on when at the Amex Corporation.

In June 1979, Software Development Laboratories renamed themselves Relational Systems Inc (RSI) and moved to Menlo Park, California. That same year they offered the first commercial SQL RDBMS (relational database management system). The second version of Oracle was released (the first version of the Oracle Database software) which ran on PDP-11 hardware. Ellison, Miner and Oates chose to name it Oracle v2 as they believed that customers would be reluctant to buy the initial release of a product. In October 1979, RSI began actively promoting Oracle on the VAX platform.


In 1981 Umang Gupta joined RSI, wrote the business plan and became a member of the team as Vice President and General Manager. RSI renamed their company in 1982, becoming Oracle Systems Corporation to further align themselves with their main product. March 1983 saw Oracle Database rewritten in C for portability and the release of Oracle v3 as well as the offer of a VAX-mode database. Soon after in October 1984 Oracle v4 was released introducing read consistency, the first of such a database with this capability. The Oracle Database software was ported to the PC platform in November 1984 with the MS-DOS version (4.1.4) running in 512K of memory.

In April 1985 Oracle v5 was released making it one of the first RDBMS’s to operate in client-server mode. Oracle v5 MS-DOS was released in 1986 and it was run in protected mode on approx 286 machines with a technique created by Mike Roberts. It was one of the first products to do so. Oracle v5.1 was also released with support for distributed queries and the company began its investigations into clustering. Oracle also offered a client server DBMS in this year.

On 12th March 1986 Oracle went public with a revenue of $55 million. In 1987 UNIX-based Oracle applications were introduced and a year later Oracle v6 was released with hot backups, embedded PL/SQL procedural engine within the database and support for row-level locking. In 1988 Oracle induced PL/SQL. The growth in the company led to relocation of the world headquarters to Redwood Shores, California in 1989 and revenues reaching $584 million.


In 1990 Oracle experienced their first ever loss in the third quarter which led to hundreds of employees losing their jobs. Oracle 7 was released in June 1992 with application development tools, performance enhancements, ability to persist PL/SQL programme units in the database as stored procedures and triggers, administration utilities, support for declarative referential integrity and security features. This was also the year that Oracle offered full applications implementation methodology.

Oracle Systems Corporation announced a merger between Oracle Corporation and Oracle Systems Corporation on 1st June 1995. This merger eliminated the holding company structure and stream lining the operating company (Oracle Corporation) with the public holding company (Oracle Systems Corporation). The transaction renamed Oracle Systems Corporation as Oracle Corporation and incorporated them as a Delaware Corporation.

By November 1995 Oracle had become one of the first large software companies to report an Internet Strategy and offered the first 64-bit RDBMS. In 1996 they released Web Browser as part of Oracle PowerBrowser and moved towards an open standards-based, web-enabled architecture. April 1997 saw Oracle release their first version of Discoverer and in June of the same year Oracle v8 was released with Internet technology, support for terabytes of data and SQL object technology. September that year Oracle Corporation introduced Oracle Jdeveloper (Oracle’s Java integrated development environment) after announcing a loyalty to the Java platform.

1998 was an influential year for Oracle Corporation, in May they released Oracle Applications 2 and in April announced that they would be integrating a Java Virtual Machine with Oracle Database. In September Oracle 8i (i stands for Internet here) and in October Oracle 8 and Oracle Application Server 4.0 were released onto the Linux platform. In 1999 Oracle Corporations offered its first DBMS with XML support.