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This article tells the story of Oracle from 1984 through 2001, primarily through the author's experiences during those years. Andrew Mendelsohn worked on the software development team that built the Oracle relational database management system (RDBMS). During this time, Oracle went from being a small niche software company to becoming one of the giants in the software industry. Although many observers believe Oracle's strong marketing and sales organizations were the primary reasons for its success during this time, Mendelsohn argues that Oracle's success was also due to its highly innovative RDBMS product that was strongly differentiated from its competitors. This article traces the development of the Oracle RDBMS through the mainframe, minicomputer, client-server, and Internet computing eras. It calls out the key competitors at each stage and the key product innovations that allowed Oracle to compete so successfully in the market. Finally, this article also provides insight into the workings of the overall Oracle business and culture.
Date of Publication: April-June 2013