Little-known history of “Cloud Computing”

While a consultant to AT&T in the early 80s I worked on a project to build a “cloud” computing facility called Net1000. Net1000 was to run in AT&T data centers across the entire AT&T network and provide compute power, storage and networking at the “wall plug”. (See this book excerpt.)   It was to be based on VAX minicomputers running in AT&T central offices (data centers). Since at the time AT&T offices were somewhat ubiquitous the thought was that most of the infrastructure for hosting it could leverage that existing infrastructure. 

I worked in the application development tools group for the network.  My main role was as a surrogate user developing sample applications and making sure that the development capabilities would be acceptable to the eventual end user developers. At the time the technology (and the political climate) was just not there to pull this off.  It was based on VAX minicomputers and the application development language was COBOL!  Unlike Azure the application development tools also ran “in the cloud”.  Of course the system itself was developed in C.

In retrospect it was way ahead of its time. There was no Internet and servers were still pretty expensive. Today things have changed and cloud computing is becoming a real option for businesses to consider as part of their complete Software + Services strategy.

I never expected that experience would ever be useful again, and I even took it off of my resume. I guess that is proof-positive that if you wait long enough even hell will freeze over. :-)

We are in for some interesting times.


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