Larry Ellison is a Jewish-American business magnate and co-founder and chief executive officer of software company Oracle Corporation. In 2011, with a personal wealth of $39.5 billion, he was listed fifth on Forbes magazine's annual list of billionaires, making him the wealthiest Jew on the list.
Lawrence Joseph Ellison was born on August 17, 1944, in New York City to unwed 19-year-old Florence Spellman. After he contracted pneumonia as an infant, Ellison's mother determined that she was unable to adequately care for him and arranged for him to be adopted by her aunt and uncle, Lillian Spellman Ellison and Louis Ellison, in Chicago. Louis Ellison was a Russian Jew who immigrated to the United States in 1905.
Ellison attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but dropped out at the end of his second year following the death of his adoptive mother. He then attended the University of Chicago for one term, where he first encountered computer designing.
In 1964, Ellison moved to California. During the 1970s, after a brief stint at Amdahl Corporation, Ellison worked for Ampex Corporation. One of his projects was a database for the CIA, which he named "Oracle".
Ellison was inspired by the paper written by Edgar F. Codd on relational database systems called "A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks". He founded Oracle in 1977, under the name Software Development Laboratories (SDL). In 1979, the company was renamed Relational Software Inc., later renamed Oracle after the flagship product Oracle database. He had heard about the IBM System R database, also based on Codd's theories, and wanted Oracle to be compatible with it, but IBM made this impossible by refusing to share System R's code. The initial release of Oracle was Oracle 2; there was no Oracle 1. The release number was intended to imply that all of the bugs had been worked out of an earlier version.
Ellison has been married and divorced four times. He was married to Adda Quinn from 1967 to 1974. He was married to Nancy Wheeler Jenkins between 1977 and 1978. From 1983 to 1986, he was married to Barbara Boothe and had two children with her, David and Megan. In December 2003, Ellison married Melanie Craft, a romance novelist. They divorced in September 2010.
Photo: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Author: Oracle Corporate Communications.