Databases: how they work, and a brief history

My twitter-friend Simon had a simple question that contained much complexity: how do databases work? Ok, so databases really confuse me, like how do databases even work?— Simon Legg (@simonleggsays) November 18, 2019 I don't have a job at the moment, and I really love databases and also teaching things to web developers, so this was a perfect storm for me: To what level of detail would you like an answer? I love databases.— Laurie Voss (@seldo) November 18, 2019 The result was an absurdly long thread of 70+ tweets, in which I expounded on the workings and history of databases as used by modern web developers, and Simon chimed in on each tweet with further questions and requests for clarification. The result of this collaboration was a super fun tiny explanation of databases which many people said they liked, so here it is, lightly edited for clarity. What is a database? Let's start at the very most basic thing, the words we're using: a "database" literally just means "a structured collection of...
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