Word Notes 3.23.21
Ep 42 | 3.23.21

cloud computing (noun)


Rick Howard: The word is: cloud computing.

Rick Howard: Spelled: cloud, as in a vast system of remote, digital, and sometimes virtual resources, and computing as in machines that store and process data.

Rick Howard: Definition: On-demand pay-as-you-go Internet delivered compute, storage, infrastructure, and security services that are partially managed by the cloud provider and partially managed by the customer.

Rick Howard: Example sentence: A fundamental concept behind cloud computing is that the location of the service, and many of the details, such as the hardware or operating system on which it's running, are largely irrelevant to the user.

Rick Howard: Origin and context: From the very beginning of the computing era, say late 1950s and early 1960s, one of the principal research goals was always how to share compute resources with people and organizations that didn't have any. In 1955, one of the founding fathers of computer science, John McCarthy, devised the idea of timesharing by slicing CPU processing priority between jobs so fast that it appeared that the computer was working on several tasks simultaneously. By 1969, JCR Licklider, one of the Internet's founding fathers, developed his vision called the Intergalactic Computer Network (and by the way, how great is that name?) in which anyone on the globe can be interconnected by means of computers and can access information from anywhere and any time. Soon after IBM developed the virtualization technology, giving them the ability to run and share several virtual operating systems from one very large mainframe. When the Internet started to become a thing in the late 1980s, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web as an information layer over the top of the Internet in order to make the network useful to more people. The 1990s had us all enamored with blinking lights and early memes on the first web pages, but by 2002, Amazon launched the first inkling of what the cloud was going to be to help developers integrate with the Amazon e-commerce platform. By 2006, they had rolled out their first S3 bucket storage service and their beta compute engine. In 2005, Concur, the popular expenses service company became the first organization to roll out a pure-play software-as-a-service offering. And the rest, as they say, is cloud computing history.

Rick Howard: Nerd reference: In 2017, the Computer History Museum's Oral History Project interviewed John McCarthy about his academic training, his early work at MIT and Dartmouth College in which he helped organize the seminal first conference on Artificial Intelligence, and the mathematical underpinnings of the logical models he uses in explaining and understanding computer systems. He had this to say about timesharing:

John McCarthy: All of the basic software for timesharing is in modern operating systems, whether they be Microsoft or Apple. For AI purposes, what one wants to be doing is sitting in a terminal at the computer and interacting with your intelligent program so that you can see what it does and make it better. Given the expense of computers, and also the fact that you spend most of your time sitting there thinking about what computer has done, the obvious thing is timesharing, or at least it was obvious to me. In '57 when I came to MIT on this fellowship, I proposed a simple form of it.