Packets of Time: A brief history of cloud computing

Posted By: Netcelerate

Published: June 21, 2016 13:31


The internet changed the world. No one in their right mind will ever question that. Our world is so different from that which existed twenty years ago, it’s frightening. And few things have changed the internet so much as “the cloud”.

But where did it come from? What led to its creation? The cloud, as we know it, is a very recent incarnation of a system that’s been around nearly as long as the internet itself.

Even though some of the earliest computers of the 1960’s would fill entire rooms, there were teams of people that would take these units and connect them to one another, and then eventually, a single “server”, on which would be stored a large amount of data for the other units to access.

This earliest version of the cloud was very different from what we know now. Nonetheless, if the definition is a database centrally located on a network with access given to other units on that network, then this would technically qualify.

In 1969, JCR Licklider (the same guy that created Apranet, the precursor to our Internet…) had a vision to be able to connect massive storage databases of computerized data to end users over a network. The only problem was, there just wasn’t the technology to make that happen. And so, a good portion of this dream would have to be put on the back burner.

Through the next three decades, however, networks grew larger and the computers themselves grew smaller. Internal company networks soon depended on massive servers to manage data and software programs. In the 90’s, during the internet boom, an IT professor named Ramnath Chellapa created what would later be labeled as the first successful “cloudbased” computing, connecting an internal network to an external user over the internet.

What really got things moving, though, was good ol’ wifi. Wireless internet meant that an individual user no longer had to depend on a hardline connection and power source in order to get on the internet. They could connect to a cloud from quite literally anywhere. In 2006, Amazon launched the first commercial cloud service, called Elastic Compute Cloud. Google’s Drop Box and Apple’s iCloud soon followed, doing their best to capitalize on the emerging trend and profits.

Over time, this industry would grow to become a $150,000,000,000 monster. That’s billion. With a B. With more people now connected to the internet than ever thanks to smartphones and tablets, cloud computing is quickly becoming the norm rather than an outlier.

Now, an end user can operate almost entirely in the cloud if they wish, and soon, they will likely be able to switch everything over. Sure beats the floppy disk game.

For those who don’t know what I mean, just ask the IT guys. Oh, the tales they’ll tell.


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