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QUEL (Query Language) is a database programming language designed for use with the Ingres database management system in the early 1980s. QUEL was an alternative to SQL at the time and offered more sophisticated query optimization. QUEL's primary focus was on providing a richer set of manipulative operations than those available in SQL, such as better support for complex queries and recursive operations. However, despite its capabilities, SQL eventually became the industry standard due to its broader acceptance across different database systems.