Once upon a long cyber time ago, some folks working for IBM conceived of the relational database and incarnated this concept into a database management system (DBMS) called DB2, née "System R." IBM and most of its customers tended to view DB2 as a "gee whiz" product rather than a serious DBMS player. Besides, IBM already offered an alphabet soup of data management products (IMS, VSAM, ISAM, CICS, etc.); and in the days of low-performance, expensive processors, DB2 (which consumed a lot of cycles) didn't appear to be a very attractive alternative.

Then along came an IBM salesman who believed in relational DBMSs. He suggested that IBM put major eggs in its DB2 basket. When IBM chose not to go along with his recommendation, he started his own relational DBMS company and in short order accumulated a personal net worth of some $8 billion. Along the way, his company, Oracle, did some major butt-kicking, the primary recipient of which was--you guessed it--IBM.

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