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InstantDB History

InstantDB will be released to the Open Souce soon, and as the developer community grows, this will be the place that those making outstanding contributions will be recognized!

Peter Hearty
Creator of InstantDB

Peter Hearty is the mastermind behind Instant DB.
In his native England, Peter, 38, is a man of many interests, including astronomy, cycling, and Roman/Byzantine history. But it was his desire and drive for programming in Java™ that led him to create the first all-Java™ Relational Database Management System, InstantDB.

Since its launch in July 1997, InstantDB has been adopted by thousands of Internet and database developers around the world. InstantDB was recently purchased by Lutris Technologies, an Open Source Enterprise Software and Services company. Lutris is committed to introducing InstantDB to the Open Source community, and believes the inclusion of the high quality InstantDB will add great benefit to Enhydra, the leading Open Source Java™/XML application server.


A Short History of InstantDB By Peter Hearty

It all started four years ago, when I decided to start doing some contract programming. I hadn't done any serious programming for years, and my skills were a bit out of date. I didn't have anything to show to prospective clients, but, as I was building, I determined to program using things I found to be fun (programmers like me have a very strange idea of what constitutes fun). I spent some time with Visual Basic and quickly tired of it. But once I discovered Java™, I was hooked. It's a very simple language - simple enough for most to understand, including me!

I set out to write a Java™ newsreader and started looking for suitable components, including a Java™ relational database. I was quite surprised to find that there was little available. There were some admirable efforts from a team at the NCSA, which had started an Open Source database called Decibel, but they ran out of steam. There were also some simple SQL parsers that used a variety of backends such as text-based files, but nothing looked like a real scalable database.
In my naiveté, I decided to write one myself. So the newsreader idea was shelved and InstantDB, my first Java™ program, was born.

In 1997, I assumed that InstantDB would be of interest only to people like me who were learning Java™ and needed a simple database with which to play. However, it quickly became apparent that an all-Java™ database also held commercial potential. A large, untapped market of startup companies needed a small, low-cost database to distribute with their products. Some companies need to be able not only to ship their products shrink-wrapped, but to run demo systems out of the box.
Existing database commercial license fees were too expensive and open-ended to appeal to small companies. Clearly there was a need for a fixed price, low cost, cross-platform solution. This was the market I decided to target with InstantDB: to this day, it remains InstantDB's main use.

I was also keen to see InstantDB used widely outside of the commercial arena, so I decided to make it freely available to non-profit organizations and individuals. These now make up the largest number of InstantDB users. Without the many helpful suggestions and bug reports from hundreds of different freeware users, InstantDB could never have reached the stage that it is at today. I owe this group a considerable debt of gratitude.

By mid-1999, it became apparent that InstantDB was out-growing my one-man business. I considered two options: either expand the company or make InstantDB Open Source.

Lutris Technologies, Inc. came along at just the right time. Lutris' proven expertise in managing Open Source Java™ projects--together with the companies need for a Java™ database--was to me a match made in heaven. Lutris and I quickly agreed that we would make InstantDB Open Source. I was to become an employee of Lutris and help maintain and enhance InstantDB. That brings us to today, and the exciting launch of this new InstantDB Website!

My philosophy: Keep it simple and if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Here's to the exciting future of Instant DB!

Peter Hearty
Lutris Technologies UK Ltd.