E. F. Codd (Edgar F. "Ted" Codd) formed the concepts for organizing and accessing data that are embodied in the relational database, the predominant approach to data organization in today's business world. Critical of IBM's then current data management systems, Codd, as a young IBM programmer working in IBM's San Jose Research Lab in California in 1970, proposed that data be organized according to principles based on identified relations between various kinds of data. The data itself would be organized in two-dimensional (row and column) tables and specific items in a table could be related to data located in other tables. Codd saw the need to reduce or eliminate redundancy in data and to allow data to be accessed through logical rather than physical identification. One of Codd's key ideas was the process for organizing data into the appropriate number of tables, a process known as normalization.
To access data using this relational model, Codd envisioned a relatively easy-to-use query language based on a foundation of relational set theory. Codd also believed that a database management system should provide a standard access approach so that an application program did not have to be aware of how the data was organized. As a result, IBM in 1982 came out with the first version of what later became the Structured Query Language (SQL).
In 1977, Oracle became the first commercial relational database management system. IBM's DB2 followed in 1981. Retiring from IBM after a serious injury in the early 1980s, Codd had his own consulting group until 1999. He died on April 18, 2003 at his home on Williams Island, Florida.