Long ago I stopped advertising myself as the ”father of data warehouse” . In fact I haven’t done much pioneering work in data warehouse in years.

But occasionally Barry Devlin appears and claims that he is the father of data warehousing. The implication is that Barry is responsible for the concept of data warehousing.

I choose to not deal with this subject. It all happened thirty or so years ago and is ancient history. But I do care about my reputation. I don’t like it when someone implies that I have encroached on their domain.

It is true that a while ago – in 1988 – Barry wrote an article in the IBM systems journal and mentioned something called an “information warehouse”.

I don’t think there is dispute over that fact.

So what has Bill Inmon done?


  Wrote a book that has been translated into seven languages, selling approximately 500,000 copies collectively. (It is still selling today.)

  Conducted the world’s first conference on data warehousing – with Arnie Barnett

  Gave a definition as to what a data warehouse is. Interestingly that definition is still used today.

  Defined the infrastructure that accompanies a data warehouse

  Developed a company that created the first ETL in the world – Prism Solutions

  Developed the concept of changed data capture

  Developed technology to allow text to be an integral part of the data warehouse – textual ETL

  Wrote several other books on data warehouse – management, used involvement, etc.

  Linked the data model to data warehouse development

  Made the distinction between a data mart and a data warehouse

  And so forth.

And just a few other items – Bill called a data warehouse a data warehouse. And Bill’s first printed reference to a data warehouse was in 1985.

So I admit it – Barry Devlin is the father of the information warehouse (whatever that is. Barry never told us.) Now look up information warehouse on the Internet. The truth is that there is scant information about an information warehouse. When I looked up information warehouse the Internet referred me to a data warehouse. There just is no information that I could find about the information warehouse. That is because Barry only made a vague reference as to what an information warehouse was. He never defined it, or talked about its structure, or talked about it. Instead he conveniently turned his information warehouse into a data warehouse.

That is sort of like calling your farm horse Secretariat. You can call your horse anything you want. But if you are at the racetrack, you better know who the real Secretariat is. Otherwise you will bet on the wrong horse. And we know what happens when you bet on the wrong horse.

Barry Devlin – father of the information warehouse.

(By the way, every word of what is in this article is true and factual.)

This post originaly appeared on Bill Inmon’s LinkedIn Page.

Bill Inmon’s latest books include DATA ARCHITECTURE: SECOND EDITION, Elsevier Press, HEARING THE VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER, Technics Publications, TURNING TEXT INTO GOLD, Technics Publications. Bill’s company – FOREST RIM TECHNOLOGY – is located in Denver, Colorado, and its product – textual ETL – reads raw text and turns raw text into a standard data base. Once the standard data base is built, analytical processing then occurs.