Where does the term "element" come from?
Most likely from 'data element'. Several decades ago the predominant programming languages included FORTRAN, COBOL, ALGOL and PL/I. Applications typically operated with an ad hoc data store. For file-oriented input (as opposed to streams), programming specifications typically included a record layout, showing the fields or data elements that comprised a record. When projects were done with programming teams, a data dictionary was used to ensure consistency of the data elements (size, type, location in a record). With the emergence of record management sytems (e.g. DEC RMS) and databases, applications written in different languages could access the same data on disk. There was a need for tools to ensure consistency of the definition of data elements across projects and programming languages. Common Data Dictionary software, repository-based design, data modeling software and other CASE tools emerged as solutions.
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