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July 11, 2006

History of Database Blobs

I learned something very important last night listening to Jim Starkey at the Boston MySQL meetup. It wasn't that Jim created the blob datatype on a scratch of paper while stuck in Colorado waiting out a snowstorm that had closed the Boston airport. It also wasn't that when he created the blob it was hard to sell it to the folks at DEC, and even after adoption they gave it a more sophisticated sounding name, "segmented strings".

No, the important thing I learned is that when Jim created the blob datatype it wasn't an acronym, it was a reference to the large jelly-like alien from the 1958 classic, The Blob. The BLOb (Binary Large Object) acronym was created later, much to Jim's dismay.

The history is nicely captured in these email responses from Jim and Ann Harrison (Jim's wife, also a database theorist/architect).

Posted by mike at July 11, 2006 7:57 AM