Did you know that cloud computing can trace its roots back to the 1950s? Back then, organisations started using large-scale mainframe computers but due to their high cost couldn’t afford to purchase one for each user. As a result, they employed a practice known as ‘time-sharing’ to maximise their ROI; this allowed multiple users to access a single mainframe using terminals that had no internal processing capabilities of their own.

Since then, of course, the technological landscape has changed dramatically. Mainframe computers are still around, but just about everyone has their own personal computer now, something unthinkable in the 1950s. This does show, however, that the basic premise of cloud computing is not actually that new.

The next notable event in cloud computing’s history came in 1969, courtesy of American computer scientist J. C. R. Licklider. He helped to develop the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), the so-called predecessor to the Internet. Licklider also had a vision for everyone in the world to be interconnected and accessing programs and data at any site and from anywhere – sound familiar? It should do, as it is exactly what cloud computing enables us to do today. Licklider, then, is a hugely important figure in the history of cloud computing and could possibly even be called the ‘father’ of the technology.

Between the 1970s and mid-1990s, various other developments occurred to contribute to the development of cloud computing. IBM released the first version of its VM operating system in the 1972 and in the 1990s a number of telecoms companies started offering virtualised private network connections. The origin of the term ‘cloud computing’, however, isn’t completely clear – it is often said to have first been used by executives at Compaq Computer in 1996, but University of Texas professor Ramnath Chellappa has also been credited as the first person to use it academically in a talk in 1997 called “Intermediaries in Cloud-Computing: A New Computing Paradigm”.

The SlideShare presentation below from Oneserve summarises the main events to occur in the history of cloud computing, beginning, as mentioned, in the 1950s. Check it out now: