Your average geek and probably all non-geeks have different definitions for the word Blob. Comic Geeks think of the Marvel comic villain ‘The Blob’. To classic sci-fi movie aficionados ‘The Blob’ movie from 1958 (and 1988 remake) was an amoeba-like alien that terrorized a small community.
In the world of software however, BLOB usually stands for “Binary Large Object” and is used for storing information in databases. I say ‘usually’ because there are other obscure software references to the term. For instance ‘God Object‘ and ‘Meatballs‘ can also be known as blobs.
Also, before going further with the definition, ‘BLOB’ was not originally intended to be an acronym, in fact it’s a backronym (more on this after the definition).
A blob is a data type that can store binary data. This is different than most other data types used in databases, such as integers, floating point numbers, characters, and strings, which store letters and numbers. Since blobs can store binary data, they can be used to store images or other multimedia files. For example, a photo album could be stored in a database using a blob data type for the images, and a string data type for the captions.
Blobs are usually multimedia objects though they can also be executable code. They usually need much more space than other data types. The amount of data a blob can store varies depending on the database type, but some databases allow blob sizes of several gigs.
Blobs were originally just amorphous chunks of data invented by Jim Starkey at DEC in the ’90s, who described them as “the thing that ate Cincinnati, Cleveland, or whatever”. Later, a marketing person felt that it needed to be an acronymn and invented the backronym ‘Basic Large Object’. Not long after, an alternative backronym was created: ‘Binary Large Object’.
Here’s the e-mail thread from 1997 providing “The true story of BLOBs. “