Charles Bachman

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Charles Bachman, 2012

Charles "Charlie" William Bachman (born December 11, 1924 in Manhattan , Kansas , † July 13, 2017 in Lexington , Massachusetts ) was an American computer scientist .

Among other things, he developed the network database model and one of the first database management systems as well as the Bachman notation in the entity relationship model, which is widely used for designing database diagrams, and was involved in the creation of numerous standards in the field of databases and network technology. In 1973 he received the Turing Award for "his outstanding contribution to database technology". Bachman was an unusual Turing Award winner because he spent his entire professional career in industry rather than academia.


The son of football coach Charles W. Bachman graduated from high school in East Lansing , Michigan , early in 1943 and then completed the freshman year in mechanical engineering at Michigan State College in East Lansing in six months before volunteering for the army . From 1944 he spent two years with the US Army Anti-Aircraft Artillery Corps in the Pacific War , where he first came into contact with computers ( fire control systems for 90 mm guns). In Australia, he attended Officer Candidate School after completing the Reserve Officer Training Corps program in high school . He then studied at Michigan State College (Bachelor 1948) and at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (Master 1950). Since the postgraduate course at the University of Pennsylvania was designed in the form of evening classes, he attended the Wharton School during the day for an MBA course , the last semester of which, however, he did not complete after obtaining the engineering master's degree.

After graduating, he married the art historian Connie Hadley and began his career as an engineer at Dow Chemical in Midland , where some of his first projects, however, were the creation of a discounted cash flow concept and a type of management information system based on punched cards. In the meantime he became deputy operations manager of one of the company's polystyrene factories , but in 1957 he moved to the newly established Central Data Processing department as manager and was thus responsible for the procurement and installation of the company's first large computer. As part of this activity, he also took part in a two-week programming course at Remington Rand on a UNIVAC 1103A .

Dow Chemical's first downsizing occurred in May 1958, and Bachman had to lay off ten of his 30 newly hired and programmer-trained people. His order for an IBM 709 was also withdrawn after the programmers had been trained for this machine and a corresponding computer room had been built in the new building of Dow Chemical's headquarters. Bachman remained active in the IBM user group SHARE , especially in the Data Processing Committee he co-founded , in whose environment he helped develop the file management and reporting program 9PAC.

In December 1960, Bachman left Dow and went to General Electric in New York City , where he claims to be the first integrated production control system MIACS (later also commercially available as GEICS - General Electric Integrated Control System , or HMS - Honeywell Manufacturing System ) and as By-products of one of the first database management systems , the also commercialized IDS ( Integrated Data Store , origin of the network database model ) and an operating system based on IDS. In this context, he also designed his own version of the data structure diagrams , later known as Bachman notation. In 1964 he moved to GE's computer department in Phoenix , Arizona , where he was initially responsible for IDS further development and the creation of IDS training material and later for other database, information and operating system projects. In addition, he supported the CODASYL List Processing Task Group founded in 1965 (from 1967 Data Base Task Group ) with standard specifications for COBOL DBMS based on the IDS language. He later also served as the Vice President of the CODASYL Data Description Language Committee .

When the General Electric Computer Department was bought by Honeywell in 1970 , Bachman worked for their research department in Waltham as manager of the Database Management Group . There, Bachman was on the committee for the creation of the ANSI-SPARC standard for database schemes, pushed the development of the distributed systems architecture for networks and was involved in the OSI standardization committee as chairman of the American subcommittee 16.

In 1981 he went to Cullinane Database Systems (later Cullinet) as Vice President of Product Management , the main product of which was the IDS further development IDMS ( Integrated Database Management System , originally by BF Goodrich ). He resigned from the OSI committee because he saw no economic interest in the work of Cullinane. Nevertheless, Cullinane's needs and Bachman's abilities could not be reconciled, and so he was released after two years. However, he used the possibility of using the Cullinane computers and software associated with the consultancy contract, which was designed as a severance payment, to develop further data modeling tools. In April 1983 he founded Bachman Information Systems (BACHMAN for short) together with his wife. He later also hired his son, Jonathan, to develop graphical diagram design programs which, along with other CASE tools, were brought to market on personal computers from 1986 with two million dollars in third-party venture capital. The company also became an IBM Business Partner for a short time , but fell out with IBM when it was supposed to exert too much influence on BACHMAN's direction. Bachman largely withdrew from operational management and concentrated again more on the technical side, for example by revising his partnership set model, a further development of the network database model.

Bachman Information Systems, which went public in 1990, ran into financial difficulties due to low sales and eventually merged with Cadre Technologies to form Cayenne Software, which was bought in 1998 by Sterling Software , which was bought by Computer Associates less than two years later . Bachman himself resigned as Chairman of the Board of Cayenne Software in 1997 and became a freelance consultant for Constellar Systems, which specialized in the integration of heterogeneous database systems, but failed due to project management errors.

Bachman initially withdrew from IT and advised the local Episcopal Church on financial matters. At Cbr Systems ( Cord Blood Registry ), however, he returned to database design.

Bachman was known for his heated debates (especially at the SIGFIDET ACM Conference 1974) with Edgar F. Codd , who preferred the relational database model to the network database model proclaimed by Bachman . He remained skeptical about the relational model and especially its performance.

Charles Bachman, who had Parkinson's Syndrome , died on July 13, 2017.

Awards (selection)


  • Thomas Haigh: Charles W. Bachman: Database Software Pioneer . In: IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, Vol. 33, Number 4, 2011, pp. 70-80.

Web links

Commons : Charles Bachman  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Harrison Smith: Charles Bachman, engineer who devised a better way to manage data, dies at 92 . The Washington Post, July 16, 2017.