Photo of Charles Bachman

Charles Bachman

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Software

For fundamental inventions in database management, transaction processing, and software engineering.

Charles Bachman on his mother

If you’ve ever tracked a package in real time or booked a flight online, you can thank Charles Bachman. Bachman, an engineer-turned-computer scientist, developed early database management systems and ultimately pioneered the framework that supports the corporate computing systems we know today.

Bachman’s career has been as varied as it has been long. He started his career in 1950, after earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University and the University of Pennsylvania, respectively. He has since managed a chemical plant, developed cost capital accounting systems, led an early data processing group, pioneered the application of computers to manufacturing control, standardized database and computer communication concepts and founded a publicly-traded company.

Among these accomplishments, he’s best known for creating the Integrated Data Store. The store, which he created with a team while working for IBM, changed the way existing databases functioned by making them responsive to changes.

The techniques and diagrams he used to program the IDS were later named the Bachman Diagrams and widely used.

Bachman retired in 1996, and according to the Association for Computing Machinery, summed up his career with a simple sentiment: “My work has been my play.”

By Sydni Dunn