Christopher B. Browne's Home Page

4. Database Systems That Don't Fit Other Classifications

4.1. Variations on PICK

Pick is a database system created in the late '60s/early '70s by Dick Pick (I don't name 'em) that provided an integrated database application environment. That is, it included:

By doing these things, it provided the sorts of things that COBOL systems provide that are useful for business programming that SQL environments still have not standardized.

Note that in this case "standard" is not referring to the availability of any sort of de jure standard, but rather to the notion that all implementations of "Pick-like" systems provide fairly much compatible subsystems in each of the described areas.

Proponents of Pick make some fairly radical claims about power and performance; there is little doubt but that Pick systems can do a decent job for small and midsized firms; whether it is up to dealing with huge databases where it would compete with things like Oracle Parallel Server and the likes is somewhat questionable.

4.2. MUMPS-Like Systems

MUMPS is short for the Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System. It is a programming language with extensive tools for the support of database management systems. MUMPS was originally used for medical records and is now widely used where multiple users access the same databases simultaneously, e.g. banks, stock exchanges, travel agencies, hospitals.

On one consulting engagement, I came rather close to needing to learn a touch of MUMPS. I used C and the VMS "DCL" scripting language instead...

4.3. Distributed Hash Tables

These may be used to implement distributed "file systems" such as the following:

Contact me at