Bachman National Medal
Charles Babbage Institute

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Charles Bachman Awarded National Medal

of Technology and Innovation

Bachman and President Obama

“National Medal of Technology and Innovation to Charles W. Bachman, for fundamental inventions in database management, transaction processing, and software engineering.”

On November 20, 2014, Charlie Bachman was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Barack Obama in a televised ceremony at the White House.  To say the least it is a singular honor, and one which caps an esteemed career in computing.  In 1973 Charlie was awarded the ACM’s premier honor, the Turing Award, and in 1977 he was elected Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society.  All these awards recognize Charlie’s early and fundamental conceptualization of databases, the predominant way that computers and humans interact with immense datasets.  Even web pages now routinely call up content that is stored in databases in order to display the news, sports scores, stock quotations, airline reservations, and all matter of e-commerce.

At CBI we created a webpage <> to help with publicity for the award.  Charlie, as many CBI Newsletter readers will know, deposited his wide-ranging archive at CBI.  These 55 archival boxes document his work in database management and database standardization as well as his role in the OSI model of networking standards (noted in our write-up of Andy Russell’s recent book).  Charlie explains his conception of the “Integrated Data Store,” the pioneering network database, in a session that he organized at a 2006 alumni reunion of General Electric’s computer department.  There Charlie shared the stage with his GE colleagues Russ McGee, Stan Williams, Oris Friesen, and Joanna Broder.  The video posted on the CBI website, just over two hours in length, provides audio and video of the speakers as well as their presentation slides.

We are especially pleased to have two recent additions to the fully processed Bachman archival collection.  Charlie sent us five of his legacy computers, with their hard drives intact.  We’ll do complete disk images and convert these all-digital materials into research tools.  Charlie’s family also entrusted us with a complete copy, some 800 files, that fully document the process that led to the National Medal award.  Of particular interest is the 17-page nomination (formally submitted by U.S. Representative Ed Markey, now Senator from Massachusetts) and set of support letters from computing notables such as Gordon Bell as well as software industry leaders from Oracle, Progress Software, CA Technologies, and other companies.  We salute Charlie and his family on this richly deserved award!

Thomas J. Misa


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