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Postgres is a nickname for PostgreSQL, but it was the original name of the University of California Berkeley project that PostgreSQL evolved from.

The Berkeley POSTGRES project was formed to build a new relational database management system (RDBMS) to act as the successor to the INGRES relational database system. It was intended to support many of the engineering applications (CAD systems, etc.) that relational systems of the time struggled to support. With a goal of not changing the relational model, the POSTGRES project aimed to:

  • Provide better support for the complex objects found in engineering data
  • Make it possible to include new data types, new operators, and new access methods in the RDBMS
  • Support active databases and rules (i.e., alerts and triggers)
  • Reduce the amount of code written to support crash recovery
  • Produce a design that could take advantage of new technologies whenever possible.

By 1993, the external user community had grown to the point where maintenance of the prototype code and support ate up too much time—time the team felt should be devoted to database research. So, the POSTGRES project officially ended with Version 4.2, released in June 1994.

The same year, two Berkeley graduate students replaced the POSTQUEL query language interpreter with SQL. They named it Postgres95.

By 1996, it became clear that the name “Postgres95,” much like Windows95, would not stand the test of time. A new name, PostgreSQL, was chosen to reflect the relationship between POSTGRES and the new version which included SQL capabilities.

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