The world's first stored program computer
Although the term cloud computing is relatively modern, the concept of sharing resources over a network – essentially accessing them from the cloud – has a much longer history. One that goes right back to computing’s earliest days.
The world's first stored program computer
Academics and scientists introduce the concept of time sharing to use computer resources more efficiently.
National Physical Laboratory introduced the concept of packet switching.
Paul Baran of RAND
John McCarthy set out to revolutionise the computing world.
ARPANET sends its first message.
The first packet switched network becomes accessible to the US public.
The Apple ll personal computer debuts, with great success.
The Era of Personal Computers
Minitel launches one of the earliest applications of an end-user information system.
The first Windows operating system is launched.
CERN develops the World Wide Web.
Mosaic web browser is launched.
Favaloro and O'Sullivan use the term to describe the future of computing where everything from software, storage and computer power is accessed over the Web.
Salesforce becomes one of the first leaders in cloud computing.
The Dot-Com Bubble Bursts.
The Big Data explosion.
The beginning of Amazon Web Services.
Google Apps is launched.
IBM brings Medicine to Remote Locations.
The smartphone revolution. Everyone has access to the cloud in their pocket.
Netflix challenges conventional TV providers with cloud technology.
Netflix moves into the Cloud with Amazon Web Services.
Amazon expands its cloud marketplace.
UK Government launches G-Cloud.
Google reveals automated encryption on its cloud platform.
Amazon Web Services continues to improve.
FBI announces its move to the cloud.
In 2013, worldwide spending on cloud services was estimated at $47 billion, with 93 per cent of organisations using the cloud in some form.
This is predicted to more than double, reaching $108 billion by 2017, as more businesses invest in cloud services and the amount of cloud-based applications available continues to rise.
The University of Manchester develops the world's first stored program computer, dubbed The Manchester Baby, marking the birth of software.
Developed by Tom Kilburn and Frederic C. Williams, the Baby could run a number of mathematical programmes and display the answers on its cathode ray tube display.
The Manchester Baby was 17 feet in length, 7 feet 4 inches tall, and weighed almost a ton. It had a memory of 32 words.
Instead of large expensive mainframe computers remaining inactive between periods of use, users were allocated amounts of processing power to ensure as little downtime as possible.
In 1955, there were just 250 computers in use in the world and each one could be rented for as much as $32,000 a month in today’s money. It’s no wonder users were keen to get the most out of them.
In the 1960s, Paul Baran of RAND and Donald Davies at the National Physical Laboratory independently came up with the idea of packet switching.
Packet switching, as opposed to circuit switching used in telephone communication, breaks information into small chunks or packets, enabling multiple individuals to use a network at the same time. This laid the foundations for the Internet and the sharing of resources.
Engineers at AT&T originally dismissed Baran's packet switching idea, suggesting that he didn't understand how voice communication worked.
Computer scientist John McCarthy makes a speech at MIT suggesting that one day computer resources may be shared like any other utility. He is the first person to suggest using computer technology in this way.
The idea of computing as a utility or a service is at the heart of the cloud computing model, replacing the traditional idea that software and computer resources are products.
“Computing may someday be organised as a public utility just as the telephone system is a public utility,” McCarthy explained. “Each subscriber needs to pay only for the capacity he actually uses, but he has access to all programming languages characteristic of a very large system. The computer utility could become the basis of a new and important industry”.
The ARPANET, a precursor to the Internet, sends its first message. Envisioned by J.C.R. Licklider, the ARPANET was an early packet switching network, enabling multiple computers to be connected.
As the first large-scale packet switching network, the ARPANET is considered the first Internet. This kind of long distance network is crucial to the existence of the cloud computing model.
The first message sent over the ARPANET didn't exactly go to plan. Intending to send the word login, the system crashed after the first two letters, leaving researchers with just lo.
The ARPANET was commissioned by the US military and remained in use until 1990.
Sites in Norway and the UK connect to the ARPANET, marking the first international network, later dubbed the Internet.
The first packet switched network becomes available to the general public. Telenet was made available in hundreds of cities in the US, including Washington DC, Boston and New York.
Telenet was funded by government and private companies paying monthly fees, thus establising the first commercial interest in the Internet.
Telenet was created by Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN), the private contractors responsible for ARPANET.
The success of the Apple II personal computer, released in 1977, was one of the earliest computers to run business applications. By being affordable to middle class families, it helped make computers and software a mainstay in businesses and homes.
While it may seem obvious, in order for the Internet and cloud computing to eventually gain mass appeal, computers first had to gain widespread popularity too. In the industry's early days, computers were reserved for universities and large businesses due to their size and cost.
The earliest spreadsheet software, VisiCalc, was released for the Apple II. Many business applications are now Internet-based and accessed via the cloud.
Despite costing $1,298 at the time ($5,052 in today's money adjusting for inflation), the Apple II sold well throughout its lifetime, shipping somewhere between 5 and 6 million units.
The 1980s is the decade in which PCs or personal computers achieve mass appeal. The IBM Personal Computer is launched in 1981, standardising PC architecture for years to come. By 1982, IBM is selling one every minute of the working day.
Minitel launches nationwide in France as a Videotex online service accessed via telephone lines. Terminals were given to users for free, allowing them to use a number of services such as phone directories and messaging.
The service charged users up to €1 a minute (in today's money) to access sites, suggesting users were happy to adhere to a pay-as-you-go model.
Minitel is considered one of the most successful online services to exist prior to the creation of the World Wide Web. It had more than 25 million users over its lifetime.
Minitel may be one of the earliest examples of Internet pornography, with adult chat services, known as pink messages, appearing on the service.
The first version of Microsoft’s now-famous operating system Windows 1.0 launches in 1985. It establishes a more user-friendly way of operating PCs, where the user only deals with the front-end of the product.
Cloud computing takes a similar approach, in that the back-end server architecture of it is not visible.
The World Wide Web is developed by CERN employee Tim Berners-Lee. He establishes unique identities for web resources, known as URLs, the language used to create websites (HTML) and the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP).
The World Wide Web is a series of interconnected documents created using the HTML language. Using hyperlinks, users can go from one page to another easily. The Web has gone on to become one of the most valuable resources in the history of humankind. Without the Web and its now huge user base, the ecosystem for cloud computing would not exist.
Although largely disputed, it has been claimed that the first photo on the World Wide Web was an image of the CERN house band Les Horribles Cernettes, taken by Tim Berners-Lee.
The number of websites has grown rapidly since the creation of the World Wide Web, with an estimated 1 billion sites now online.
Mosaic web browser is launched, helping to popularise the World Wide Web.
Mosaic allowed graphics to be shown on the Web, increasing the commercial possibilities of the Internet. This led to a boom in online companies, with eBay and Amazon founded shortly afterwards in 1995.
Executives at Compaq Computer, George Favaloro and Sean O’Sullivan, refer to cloud computing in their company business plan, marking the earliest known use of the term.
The Compaq business plan was surprisingly prophetic, predicting that online storage and video conferencing would be by businesses online and paid for as and when they were used.
Compaq could have received more credit as cloud computing pioneers had the company's PR team not changed all references to cloud computing in a 1997 press release to Internet computing.
Salesforce becomes the first website to deliver applications and software over the Internet.
Salesforce were pioneers in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) branch of cloud computing, whereby businesses do not purchase software outright but rather rent it over the web as a subscription service.
Salesforce software primarily focuses on Customer Relationship Management (CRM), which helps automate and manage aspects of the retail industry, such as sales data.
The Dot-Com Bubble reaches its peak and bursts. Many online companies go bust or see their stock plummet.
The Dot-Com burst, caused by a mixture of Y2K anxiety and poor online takings, caused businesses to re-think how they used the Internet to deliver services, providing the perfect conditions for cloud computing to thrive.
In 2002, a new study found that the world produced 5 exabytes of new information during the year and that 92 per cent of this new information was stored on magnetic media, usually hard disks.
As the amount of Big Data grew, the need for cloud, rather than local, storage increased.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is launched.
Offering increased flexibility, more efficient use of data centres and huge cost savings, cloud service providers likes Amazon Web Services emerge with increasing regularity.
AWS has more than a million customers, with its exact number of servers unknown. Estimates vary between 1.5 million and 2 million.
Google Apps, now called Google Apps for Work, is a suite of cloud productivity tools encompassing Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs and many others.
Many of the tools not only cater for business users but have found popularity with the general public too.
The world’s most remote island, Tristan da Cunha, now has access to advanced medical care thanks to IBM’s Project Tristan and cloud computing technology.
The installation of electronic health-record (EHR) technology and the ability to share images and information with medical practitioners all over the world through the cloud could prove life-saving. Previously, the island’s only doctor had to scan, print and fax documents to experts thousands of miles away.
Netflix moves its service from its own data centres to Amazon Web Services. The streaming firm cited reliability, enabling greater focus on customer experience, and unpredictable growth as the main reasons for switching to the cloud.
Netflix currently has more than 60 million subscribers, adding 13 million in 2014 alone. The cloud offers the flexibility to scale up its offering to meet this demand.
Netflix has more than a petabyte of data stored on Amazon's cloud servers. You would need 223,000 DVDs to store one petabyte.
10th, November 2010 is the day when Amazon turns off its last physical web server.
As a way of showing the benefits of cloud computing, Amazon moves its own retail website from physical servers to Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), enabling greater scalability, efficiency and speed.
iCloud enables users to store images and documents remotely, as well as manage their iOS devices, should they become lost or stolen. It also introduced many users to automated backup, one of the key benefits of cloud computing.
iCloud has an estimated 500 million account holders and contributes approximately $1 billion in sales per quarter.
UK Government launches G-Cloud with the aim to shift 50 per cent of new government IT spending to cloud based services.
The launch of a government approved digital marketplace for cloud services means that public sector bodies can move to cloud faster and with less regulatory issues.
Sales of cloud services through the G-Cloud have now reached in excess of £50 million.
Amazon confirms that the AWS marketplace now consists of 1,900 software products, across 23 different categories, sold in 190 countries.
Cloud software has expanded to offer solutions to businesses across a wide range of industries, including finance, retail, media and manufacturing. Many government services are also based in the cloud.
Google announces that it will begin encrypting data stored on its cloud platform automatically.
Encryption is a way of protecting information so that only those authorised to view it can do so. It is one of a number of methods being used to secure the cloud.
Although security is sometimes seen as the cloud's weak link, there are a number of security benefits to switching to the cloud and some providers have claimed that it is more secure than desktop services.
Amazon Web Services releases 516 new features and services throughout the calendar year.
Cloud computing has shortened the development and deployment time for new software drastically when compared to traditional computing.
To emphasise how rapidly the cloud enables change, Amazon revealed in 2011 that they deploy, on average, some form of update every 11.6 seconds.
The FBI announces that it is to move criminal information to the cloud, using Microsoft's Azure platform.
By moving to the cloud, the FBI should be able to process information faster, helping them to deal with crime more efficiently.
The decision by the FBI to move sensitive information to the cloud is a ringing endorsement of cloud security, as well as the added efficiencies it can bring.
The number of organisations taking a hybrid cloud approach grew 8 per cent between 2014 and 2015.
More businesses are likely to switch to a hybrid cloud platform in order to benefit from the flexibility of the public cloud and the security of the private cloud.
It’s not only traditional technology firms that are moving to the cloud.
By 2017, two thirds of all workloads will be processed in cloud data centres - a growth rate five times as fast as traditional workloads over the same period.
The Internet of Things and wearable technology will place added strain on wireless networks and the cloud must ensure it is robust and secure enough to cope.
The number of connected devices in the world is set to reach 25 billion by 2020, and much of the collected data will be shared and stored via the cloud.
Cloud computing can make your business greener too. It is estimated that, by 2020, US organisations that move to the cloud will save $12.3 billion in energy costs – the equivalent of 200 million barrels of oil.
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