Simply put, databases store information. You encounter them every day in one way or another, whether charging a dinner on a credit card or calling Moviefone to get local movie listings.
A database is like an electronic filing cabinet that stores related information. At home, you might have a filing cabinet to store the bits and pieces of your life. For instance, you might have a filing folder labeled Insurance, in which you keep information about the various insurance policies you carry. Other folders might contain information on phone bills, car service records, and so on.
Databases have an electronic equivalent to filing folders: tables. A table is a container for information about a set of similar items. For example, in the Exasperator's online store database, a table stores information on all of the products for sale on the site.
The Products table tracks certain information—the name of the product for sale, its price, a short description, and a few other items. Each piece of information, like price, is stored in a column. All the information for each product (all the columns taken together, in other words) makes up a single record, which is stored in a row (see Figure 20-6).
Figure 20-6. This diagram shows the structure of the Products table, in which four records are stored. Each row in a table represents a single record or item, ...