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Database management system (DBMS) products became the foundation for many (some say most) of the core applications in every industry, commercial business, and government agency. They became the engine that drove the sale of mainframe computers during the 1970s and for many years afterward. And yet their success was soon overtaken by relational DBMSs. One of the most interesting stories in the history of software products is how the new relational model, published in 1970 by E.F. (Ted) Codd, spawned a whole new set of independent software companies. Together with IBM, they developed the RDBMSs that supplanted the DBMS companies and their DBMS models in both query-oriented usage and in many transaction-processing applications. This Annals special issue tells the story of how this transformation began and describes how three companies pioneered the development of relational database management products to meet the relational challenge and build the foundation for the growth of a multibillion dollar industry.