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In the spring of 1994, Mike Blasgen decided there should be a twentieth anniversary commemoration of the System R project. By the fall of 1994, Mike had recruited Jim Gray to handle local arrangements and proposed to:
"Invite those people who worked for IBM on the early relational systems. This would roughly be from the early 70s to the early 80s: a decade of progress. Include not only the original System R team but also people who worked in IBM on "derivatives" like R*, SQL/DS, and DB2."
The event was held at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, California, on May 28-30, 1995, following SIGMOD '95 in nearby San Jose. In addition to catching up with long-lost friends, walking on the beach, and enjoying a magical private reception at the Monterey Aquarium, we spent Monday, May 29, in a meeting room recounting the events of two decades ago.

I recorded and transcribed the day's talks, asked the speakers to make any appropriate revisions, and performed the final editing. The result is an informal but first-hand oral account of the birth of SQL, of the project - System R - from which it sprang, and of some of the other relational database systems.

I would like to thank the speakers for reviewing this document and providing revisions. I would like to thank Ken Beckman, Bob Taylor, and Digital Equipment Corporation for audio recording advice and equipment loan. Finally, I'd like to thank Mike Blasgen and Jim Gray for making the reunion happen.

Paul McJones
December 10, 1995

Preface to Second Edition

The first edition of this document was self-published on the World-Wide Web. In the hope of making it easier to find and to cite, I am reissuing it as an SRC Technical Note.

In the first edition I included a number of bibliographic references as starting points for readers interested in learning more about the topics discussed during the reunion. In this edition, I've made a few corrections and a number of additions to these references. There are several references that may be of general interest to readers of this document: an overview[1] of the database field at the time of the System R project, and a technical retrospective on System R[2].

I'd like to thank Cynthia Hibbard for her editorial help with this edition.

Paul McJones
August 20, 1995

[1] Special Issue: Data-Base Management Systems. ACM Computing Surveys 8, 1 (March 1976).

[2] D.D. Chamberlin, M.A. Astrahan, M.W. Blasgen, J.N. Gray, W.F. King, B.G. Lindsay, R. Lorie, J.W. Mehl, T.G. Price, F. Putzolu, P.G. Selinger, M. Schkolnick, D.R. Slutz, I.L. Traiger, B.W. Wade and R.A. Yost. "A History and Evaluation of System R" CACM 24, 10 (October 1981) pages 632-646.

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