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Ellison takes trip down memory lane at Oracle OpenWorld

Oracle founder Larry Ellison recounts software company's first 30 years during kick-off keynote at Oracle OpenWorld.

OK, kids. Sharpen those pencils, sharpen those minds. Here's a pop quiz on a bit of Oracle nostalgia, as Larry Ellison, Oracle co-founder and chief executive, kicked off Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco on Sunday with 30 years of highlights:

Larry Ellison
Larry Ellison at Oracle OpenWorld CNET Networks/ Dawn Kawamoto

What was the name of Oracle, before it became Oracle?
A: Software Development Laboratories (SDL)
B: Laboratories Software Development (LSD)
C: BEL Systems (Bob Miner, Ed Oates, Larry Ellison, founders)
Answer: Software Development Laboratories. Ellison, during his keynote speech, dedicated the evening's event to the late Bob Miner.

When Oracle began selling its first commercial SQL relational database management system in 1978, which version was first officially released?
A: Version 1.0
B: Version 2.0
C: Version 3.0
Answer: Version 2.0. There was never a 1.0 version. Said Ellison: "Who'd buy a version 1.0 from four guys in California?"

And as government contracts began to payoff and money came rolling into the company in its early years, Ellison said he struggled to understand the items on a balance sheet and sought help. Who was the company's first official bean counter?
A: a waitress
B: an H&R accountant
C: a pizza delivery boy
Answer: A pizza delivery boy. Ellison noted that in the early days of Oracle, the company would often order dinner from a local pizzeria. And in talking with the delivery boy, they learned he was majoring in accounting at UC Berkeley. The student was hired to do the company's financials. Said Ellison: "He said, 'he wouldn't quit college, but he'd help us do our books.' We said, 'take whatever you need (for pay). We'd never know.'"

As Oracle began to grow and increase its presence on college campuses for recruiting young talent, the company tried to steer clear of students with a particular type of degree. What was it?
A: Masters in business administration
B: Mathematics
C: Liberal Arts
Answer: Masters in business administration. Ellison likened the company to operating in an MBA-free zone. But one such person's MBA status slipped by detection, until after having worked at Oracle for several years. Said Ellison: "Ron Wohl had an MBA from Harvard. It should have disqualified him from working at Oracle, but we didn't find out until (several years later)."

Those are just some of the tidbits from Oracle's 30 years of history that Ellison outlined during the Sunday opening keynote.