MySQL is the most popular open source database system available. It’s particularly useful for public websites that require a fast and stable database. Even if you’re not familiar with MySQL, you’ve used it many times. You use it when you use Google, Amazon, Facebook, Wikipedia, and many other popular websites. It’s the keeper of the data behind huge websites with thousands of pages of data, and small sites with only a few pages. It’s also used in many non-web-based applications. It’s fast, stable, and small when needed.
The software was started by Michael “Monty” Widenius and David Axmark in 1995 and is licensed under the GNU General Public License. In time, they founded the Swedish company MySQL Ab (the Ab stands for aktiebolag, or stock company), which years later became MySQL, Inc., incorporated in the United States. In January 2008, the company was acquired by Sun Microsystems, which seemed promising for the future of the software. But in April 2009 Oracle — a major competitor of MySQL that offers closed source database software — acquired Sun. Many worried at the time that this acquisition would eventually end MySQL software as a free, open source alternative on which much of the Web and many sites that have changed the world were built. Five years after the acquisition, this hasn’t proved to be the case. Many new features have been added to MySQL and the number of MySQL developers within and outside of Oracle has increased.