There is nothing new under the sun…turn, turn, turn

International Oracle Users Week (IOUW), 1982? – 2005

Oracle Magazine recently ran a story by Rich Schwerin that included the following:

Imagine this: When Oracle was still called Relational Software Inc. (RSI), about 50 attendees from a dozen or so companies gathered in a small, windowless room at the San Francisco Grand Hyatt for the first International Oracle Users Week (actually just three days, August 23–25).

From that beginning in 1982, IOUW grew and grew. By 1986, the attendance had increased by an order of magnitude, to 500. IOUW was eventually merged into Oracle’s new sponsored event, Oracle OpenWorld, in 1996, and now has more than 50,000 attendees.

So how long until there are 500,000 attendees at an Oracle event?

It’s interesting to note that there are differing dates for the first IOUW. David Kreines explains the confusion:

The first user conference probably took place in 1985 in San Diego. I say probably, because some Oracle users were getting together informally to discuss the product (version 4 back then), but San Diego was the first time Oracle actually sanctioned a meeting. There were probably 50 users present.

As the years went past, it was easy to identify the differing priorities of the users, who did much of the planning, and Oracle, whose product was being talked about. Kreines:

As attendance grew, so did the quality of the presentations. A group of IOUG volunteers reviewed session submissions and, using objective criteria, carefully prepared a program that would have value to every attendee. At the same time, the Planning Committee came under increasing pressure for Oracle Corporation to add more and more “marketing” sessions to drive their ever-increasing growth.

This is not unique to Oracle, and can be found in any user group that is directly tied to the products of a single vendor. Eventually, Oracle solved the problem by taking over the conference itself. A press release was issued:

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–March 28, 1996–The International Oracle Users Group – Americas (IOUG-A) today announced that as part of an agreement reached with Oracle Corp., the technical education tracks planned for IOUW ’96 will be integrated into Oracle Open World, to be held Nov. 3 – 8, 1996 in San Francisco.

IOUW ’96 had previously been announced as a stand-alone event, scheduled for Sept. 15 – 20, 1996 in Dallas. However, with the integration of the technical education component of IOUW into Oracle OpenWorld Oracle OpenWorld is an annual Oracle event for business decision-makers, IT management, and line of business end users. It is held in major cities around the world. The 2007 event was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. , both the IOUG-A and Oracle Corp. agreed that the user community would be best served if a freestanding user education conference were postponed.

Just to illustrate how far we’ve come since 1996, the press release concludes with the following note:

EDITORS NOTE: There is a double slash after “http:” in the text above; there is an “at” symbol following “73144.1777” in the text above, and an “at” symbol following “rbrauen,” “76711.1015” and “jbaxter” in the contact information below. These symbols may not appear properly in some systems.

Yes, discerning minds can see that we in 1996 were still not comfortable with all of these forward slash things in web addresses, and we can also see that people were still using their Compuserve addresses as contact information. (I was 72604,2235 back in the day.)

IOUW itself survived until 2005, but Oracle OpenWorld, funded by Oracle, eclipsed it in popularity.

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