Ellison was inspired by the paper written by Edgar F. Codd on relational database systems named A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks. He founded Oracle in 1977 under the name Software Development Laboratories, later to be 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 stopped this by keeping the error codes for their DBMS secret.
Ellison is reported to be one of the richest people in America by Forbes. He had an estate styled like a Medieval Japanese village built in Woodside, California He also owns a modernistic house in San Francisco's exclusive Pacific Heights neighborhood on Broadway Street.
At the Woodside estate, Ellison married Melanie Craft, a romance novelist, on 18 December 2003. At the wedding, his best friend, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, was the official photographer (Zinko, et al., 2004).