A database application is a program that serves as the repository for information collected for specific purposes. Sometimes referred to as a computer database, the application is normally structured so that the entry of data by authorized personnel is relatively straightforward, often requiring nothing more than entering the information into specific fields on a template. Once entered, the data contained in the database application can be retrieved with equal ease by any user with the proper access credentials.
The concept of the database application dates back to the middle of the 20th century, when the first mainframe computers were developed. These large electronic brains were often configured so that users could use a simple keypad similar to a typewriter to enter information that was ultimately recorded on punch cards. Those cards could then be fed into the mainframe, permanently saving the coded data. Once in the system, users could type in queries, triggering the electronic brain to sort through the data contained in the system and provide a printed response.
Early examples of a database application involved use in streamlining accounting functions in large corporations, such as the calculation of wages and salaries followed by the generation of paychecks. Many airlines made use of these early applications to enter data regarding passenger reservations and to prepare printed tickets to match those reservations. As computer systems became more sophisticated in the 1970s and beyond, additional applications were created to aid in a wide range of business activities, including sales, marketing efforts, and even supply chain management.
With the advent of the desktop computer, the scope of database application software continued to expand. Home users could create databases that tracked everything from home budgets to the birthdays of family and friends. Smaller businesses that did not have the resources to invest in comprehensive computer systems used by larger companies found that applications written with use in desktop applications were ideal for everything from tracking leads through a sales cycle to helping to create and maintain a mailing list of established customers. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the range and scope of database application software has continued to evolve, allowing many users to accomplish tasks in minutes that once required hours to manage.
Just as computer technology continues to move forward, the range and type of data application software has continued to expand and encompass an ever-growing market of users. Some applications are intended for business use, while others are specifically configured to meet the needs of residential computer users. Unlike the applications of decades past, it is possible to purchase different types of data application software at very reasonable prices, as well as make use of open source applications that are free for use by anyone without any cost at all.