Insights and Resources

    A history of the digital cloud

    04 Jan 2017

    • The first practical microchip was developed in the late 1950s, and once computers could do more complex calculations, people started developing programs for business.
    • The first routine office computer job was done in 1951 by the LEO computer, which was designed to deal with the overnight production requirements, payroll, inventory and other administrative tasks for J. Lyons & Co., a catering and food manufacturing company in England.
    • In 1959, IBM introduced the 1401 model, which gave smaller businesses access to data processing computers.
    • J.C.R. Licklider might be the biggest contributor to the history of cloud computing in this era. He spent the 1960s developing ARPANET – the forerunner to the Internet. He also suggested there could be an “intergalactic computer network” in 1969.
    • However, it was entrepreneur, inventor and investor Sean O’Sullivan who is credited with coining the term ‘cloud computing’ sometime in the 1980s. 
    • In 1971, Intel, founded in the previous decade, introduced the world to the first microprocessor, and Intel engineer Ray Tomlinson wrote a program that allowed users to send messages from one computer to another, subsequently sending the very first message that most people would recognise as email.
    • Meanwhile, Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft in 1974, while Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple Computers in 1976 and introduced the Apple II in the same year.
    • All the while, the US Department of Defence had been developing ARPANET into the Internet.
    • In 1981, IBM put the first personal computer on the market, and in 1982, Microsoft began licensing MS-DOS.
    • Then, instead of a global dystopia, 1984 brought the first Macintosh computer, the founding of Dell computer by Michael Dell and William Gibson’s coining of the term ‘cyberspace’.
    • The 1990s connected the world in an unprecedented way, starting with CERN’s release of the World Wide Web for general (that is, non-commercial) use in 1991.
    • In 1993, a browser called Mosaic allowed graphics to be shown on Internet, and private companies were allowed to use Internet for the first time, too. 
    • The end of the 90s and beginning of the 2000s cloud computing had the right environment to take off, as multi-tenant architectures, highly prevalent high-speed bandwidth and universal software interoperability standards were developed in this time.
    • introduced Amazon Web Services in 2002.
    • Facebook was founded in 2004, revolutionising the way users communicate and the way they store their own data (their photos and video), inadvertently making the cloud a personal service.
    • Google Apps launched in 2009, allowing people to create and store documents entirely in the cloud.
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