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QUEL (Query Language) was designed in the early 1980s by Michael Stonebraker and his team at the University of California, Berkeley for the Ingres database management system. It aimed to offer more sophisticated query optimization and manipulative operations compared to SQL, with a particular focus on supporting complex queries and recursive operations. QUEL's advanced features were tailored specifically for working with intricate database structures within the Ingres system, providing a powerful alternative for users who required more detailed data manipulations.

Despite its strengths, SQL eventually became the industry standard due to its broader compatibility and support across various database platforms from multiple vendors. While QUEL excelled in advanced query optimization, richer manipulative operations, and specialized support for complex queries within Ingres, SQL's versatility made it more appealing to a wider audience. SQL's adoption by numerous vendors meant that it could be used across different systems, which facilitated its widespread usage and ultimate dominance in the database programming landscape.

The competitive differences between QUEL and SQL stemmed from their design focus and industry acceptance. QUEL offered specific advantages in handling complex data manipulations efficiently within the Ingres system but limited itself to this context. Conversely, SQL's less specialized but broadly compatible nature allowed it to gain an edge through extensive vendor support across various platforms. While QUEL provided superior capabilities for intricate queries in its niche environment, it was ultimately surpassed by SQL’s adaptability and wide-ranging applicability in diverse database systems.

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