A database is structured collection of data. Thus, card indices, printed catalogues of archaeological artefacts and telephone directories are all examples of databases. Databases may be stored on a computer and examined using a program. These programs are often called `databases', but more strictly are database management systems (DMS). Just as a card index or catalogue has to be constructed carefully in order to be useful, so must a database on a computer. Similarly, just as there are many ways that a printed catalogue can be organised, there are many ways, or models, by which a computerised database may be organised. One of the most common and powerful models is the `relational' model (discussed below), and programs which use this model are known as relational database management systems (RDMS).There is nothing that links such a structured collection of data" essentially to paper, even if some of the first databases, like Luhmann's Zettelkasten, were paper-based. Luhmann himself said late in his life, he would have used an electronic version for his system, if it had been around when he first started his Zettelkasten.
Computer-based databases are usually organised into one or more tables. A table stores data in a format similar to a published table and consists of a series of rows and columns. To carry the analogy further, just as a published table will have a title at the top of each column, so each column in a database table will have a name, often called a field name. The term field is often used instead of column. Each row in a table will represent one example of the type of object about which data has been collected. ...
One advantage of computer-based tables is that they can be presented on screen in a variety of orders, formats, or according to certain criteria, all the towns in Hertfordshire, or all towns with a cathedral.
On the other hand, it is possible to design a skeuomorphic version of a database. Microsoft's "cardfile" in early versions of Windows did this.
AZZ Cardfile is a lot less skeuomorphic. And it appears to me that DEVONthink is even less so. Using a unique identifiers as the titles od notes does not change this fact. And to use these in wiki-like links moves them even farther away from the paper-model—or so I believe.