The article provides an overview of research and development of databases since their appearance in the 60s of the last century to the present time. The following stages are distinguished: the emergence formation and rapid development, the era of relational databases, extended relational databases, post-relational databases and big data. At the stage of formation, the systems IDS, IMS, Total and Adabas are described. At the stage of rapid development, issues of ANSI/X3/SPARC database architecture, CODASYL proposals, concepts and languages of conceptual modeling are highlighted. At the stage of the era of relational databases, the results of E. Codd’s scientific activities, the theory of dependencies and normal forms, query languages, experimental research and development, optimization and standardization, and transaction management are revealed. The extended relational databases phase is devoted to describing temporal, spatial, deductive, active, object, distributed and statistical databases, array databases, and database machines and data warehouses. At the next stage, the problems of post-relational databases are disclosed, namely, NOSQL-, NewSQL- and ontological databases. The sixth stage is devoted to the disclosure of the causes of occurrence, characteristic properties, classification, principles of work, methods and technologies of big data. Finally, the last section provides a brief overview of database research and development in the Soviet Union.