A database is a collection of data. An address book or a
phone directory are well known databases. Unlike one of these written or
printed databases, with a computerized database you are not stuck with a
single format. Not only can you search for a phone number, you can also
search for an address, a first name, or whatever other data, or combination
of data, is in the collection. When you add the fact that a computer
database is not restricted to certain data like name, address, and phone
number, then you really have something. You can collect any data you
specify, such as part numbers, order numbers, dates, or product prices.
With a computer database you can report exactly the information you want, in
the format you want. You can report sales by city. You can report part
numbers by customer, by route, or by category. You can report orders by
salesman. You can report sales by dollar value. You can report whatever you
want. For example: What if there were a route code assigned to each
customer? Then deliveries could be sorted and made by route to save time.
Such data can quickly make some businesses much more profitable.
How is the
data stored? Information is stored in a datasheet. A datasheet looks
like a spreadsheet with it's many columns and rows. The rows are called
records (for example, each customer is a different record). The columns
are called fields. Each field contains some important attribute of each
record (for example, a certain field would contain a name, another a
telephone number, another a part number, or another may be an order