Re: That is trivial to do in vim or XEMACS
Some-time biologist who moved into databases here. That's databases as a complete career change. You can keep your emacs but vi is hardwired to the fingers.
Nevertheless a database might not be the right solution here. As soon as you start talking about tabular data and databases in the same breath you start thinking about RDBMS but the time taken to set that up for what might be a one-off is probably not worth it. There's almost certainly a need for a simple way to tabulate data without making too many assumptions about the nature of the data. It's a principle I've observed many times; the more assumptions you make in the design of an application the less capable it becomes.
In this case take on the data as text columns which is probably the most minimal assumption you can make. If you want to flag the column* as date - or anything else - that's the time to let the application reformat the text. If you want to use a database to store the data you can, of course, have the application generate the schema at this point.
* Spot the implied assumption here.