“Big ideas” drive the disciplines. In biology, the insights of Darwin generated evolutionary theory. In chemistry, Mendeleev’s vision of the organization of elements predicted subsequent discoveries. In computing, the database and associated database management systems (DBMS) are one of the “big ideas”. The database was conceptually possible prior to the development of the computer, but it was the digital computer that made the database the common tool it is today. The core idea of the database is distinguishing between the data description and the data itself. Among other things, this idea makes the Web possible and has made manageable new fields for discovery, such as modeling the human genome.