Cloudy matters: Where does the term "cloud" come from?
23 apr

Cloudy Matters: Where Does the Term “Cloud” Come From?

Although we are always at the cutting edge of IT technology, many terms for digital innovations are older than we think. For example, the term "meme" - a cartoon, video or similar file - became very popular on the internet. But "meme" was used to describe cultural trends as early as 1976.

Also "cloud computing"has a long history. The term was already used around 1950 - completely independent of data that can be accessed independently of end devices.


The history of the cloud

Long before computer technology found its way into private households, the mainframes, which were huge at the time, were called "clouds". They were located in the processors and hard drives of the computer machines.

Then in the 90s, the idea of a new cloud emerged. The beginnings of the Virtual Private Network managed to balance server capacities individually and to connect several servers in a cloud. With internet computing power, these "clouds" could now be made available. At that time, however, the offer of being able to use computers without having them physically in front of you was often dismissed as superfluous. The idea of turning a mistake into a product is still reflected in the reservations about the cloud today.

Then, in 1996, the idea of the cloud as we know it emerged. At that time, the CEO of an American computer manufacturer had the idea that it might be possible to move software to the internet.
The term cloud was also used repeatedly in other contexts with the internet at this time. The company NetCentric even tried to patent the term. As did DELL a few years later.

Google & Amazon make the difference

The "cloud" only gained its current popularity when Google and Amazon 10 years later used the term for their marketing. An example is Amazon's "Elastic Compute Cloud" from 2006. However, Google leader Eric Schmidt dropped the word "cloud computig" at a conference only a few weeks earlier. At the time, it was claimed that this was a deliberate move against Amazon.

The term "cloud" has already written quite a bit of history. At the same time, it refers to a wide variety of services and applications on the internet, some of which are very ambiguous. This diversity is perhaps also the reason why it has not yet found a place in the dictionary. A little nebulous, this cloud.

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