Raymond Boyce was one of the first pioneers of the relational database and a co-developer of SQL, yet it is almost impossible to find any pictures of him: https://www.google.com/search?q=raymond+f+boyce&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwiBrvvZwdTqAhXlgHMKHUyTDPIQ2-cCegQIABAA&oq=raymond+f+boyce&gs_lcp=CgNpbWcQAzIECCMQJzIECCMQJzICCAAyBggAEAcQHjIECAAQGDIECAAQGDIECAAQGFCPLVj_WGC5WWgAcAB4AIABMIgBMJIBATGYAQCgAQGqAQtnd3Mtd2l6LWltZ8ABAQ&sclient=img&ei=1LcRX4F05YHOA8ymspAP&bih=937&biw=1920&rlz=1C1CHBF_enGB859GB859

All the results show a man who seems to be about 60+ years old but Boyce died at the age of 27. The only image that I could find of him was in this slideshow on Database Management Systems: https://slideplayer.com/slide/13584514/

The picture quality looks like in could be from the 70s (when Boyce was in his 20s) and the person in the photo looks to be roughly the same age. But a google search for similar images produces absolutely nothing.

I get that it might be difficult to find pictures of somebody from the 70s who died before they became truly famous. But co-founding SQL is a big deal. Even if there are reasonable answers for...

  • Why are there no pictures of Raymond Boyce? OR
  • Where on earth did the producers of that slideshow get that other image?

... I haven't been able to derive any sensible answers to the strangest question ...

  • How come they are no threads on forums asking where they can get a genuine picture of him?

This is honestly the first question I've typed into google in years that nobody else has asked before, or something similar. Any thoughts?

  • $\begingroup$ FYI I’ve updated my answer with confirmation of where the photo in the lecture notes is from. $\endgroup$
    – Uri Granta
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 5:53

1 Answer 1


I think the answer to the main question is clear from his Wikipedia biography: Boyce died in 1974 aged 27, the same year SQL was released. He was a young researcher working for IBM in a pre-digital age, so there would have been very few reasons why photographs of him would have been taken and published during his tragically short life. And his input to computer science, while important, is not significant enough to prompt his few short biographical notes to make the effort to seek out personal photographs.

That doesn’t explain why some online biographies seem to use clearly incorrect photographs, though these may just be a result of bad web searching or scraping.

Update: I suspect this is Boyce’s grave.

Update #2: I contacted Professor Kimelfeld, who confirmed that the photo used in the slides was obtained directly from colleagues at IBM Almaden who had worked with Boyce.


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