A Database is a software program that stores, organizes, and quantifies information.

Databases are not new ... they have been around for centuries.

A shopping list, a ledger, or a simple membership list are all examples of databases.

Short lists are easy to remember.
When they reach a certain size, however, they have to be recorded.

Historically, databases were carved in stone and later recorded on paper.  But this method has a major problem ... once recorded, the list is permanently set.

You cannot later or adjust the information and  you cannot reorder the list without physically breaking it apart and shuffling pieces.

The reordering problem was overcome by recording information on several pieces of paper.  An example of this is a library catalogue where each book is listed three times ... by the title, author, or ISBN.

This makes it easier to retrieve information from the database ... say when you're trying to find a book in the library.

But with this method you have to generate a new list every time you want to reorder the database.

Another problem with multiple listings is accuracy. Every time you increase the number of lists, you increase the chances that an entry will be recorded incorrectly.

Over the years, bookkeepers have had to develop complicated systems for ensuring that business transactions were recorded accurately.

Today, computers are used to store and maintain information. Computer databases solve all of the problems early databases had ... but they are not without their own complications.

Next ...