Charles W. Bachman, Business Software Innovator, Dies at 92


Charles W. Bachman, an engineer who created software to harness business data in the early 1960s, laying a technical foundation for modern digital commerce, died on Thursday at his home in Lexington, Mass. He was 92.

His daughter Chandini Bachman confirmed his death.

Mr. Bachman was a pioneer in the field of database management software. His work would later be eclipsed by that of other innovators, and software tools have changed drastically over the years. But behind every product search on Amazon, movie recommendation on Netflix or bid on eBay, there is a flood of digital communications mediated by database management software, which owes an intellectual debt to Mr. Bachman.

He was working for General Electric when he developed a layer of software that allowed programmers to retrieve data for an automated manufacturing system that controlled a variety of tasks — production scheduling, parts ordering and inventory management.

His Integrated Data Store software, first demonstrated in 1963, made it possible to share data across different applications. That capability had been talked about before, but Mr. Bachman was the first to carry it out.

His software was crucial to converting the G.E. manufacturing-control system from an idea to a reality, an impressive technical feat given the limitations of the primitive computers at the time.

In 1973, Mr. Bachman received the Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery for his contributions to database technology. The award is often described as the Nobel Prize for computer science. In 2014, Mr. Bachman visited the White House to receive a National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama.

Mr. Bachman was the first Turing Award recipient who did not have a Ph.D. The earlier winners of the prize, which was first issued in 1966, had academic backgrounds, mainly as mathematicians or physicists. Mr. Bachman had degrees in mechanical engineering, a bachelor’s from Michigan State College and a master’s from the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Bachman spent his career in the business world at a series of companies large and small, including Dow Chemical, G.E., Honeywell and a…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

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