In computing, aren't we going back to the 1970s with cloud computing?

Back in the 1970s, we'd use a dumb terminal to connect to a mainframe somewhere and the actual running of our programs was done remotely.  All we did is input/output on the terminal.

Now in 2020 a lot of us are using "thin clients" that connect to the cloud to do our work via browser, where the computing is done in the cloud and our thin client is used as an I/O device. 

We're doing things like Google Docs, Quickbooks, Salesforce, photo storage, and even gaming now in the cloud where our device simply is used for I/O rather than doing the actual processing of what we're doing.

6 Answers

  • 2 months ago
    Favourite answer

    True enough, but the difference is the capacity now vs. then.  Still, that is an apt comparison and a quite decent "catch" for the similarity.  And, I guess, proof that things come in cycles.

    Part of the modern cloud's success is that the pervasive nature of networks - and the vastly improved speed of networks - allows the concept of SaaS, or "Software as a Service."  Your time-sharing service providers used to offer you CPU time and limited disk space.  Now they offer more services - for money, of course - because the tech exists to support that business approach.

  • 2 months ago

    Yes and no.

    In the 70's, the problem was getting compute power.  Timesharing allowed many people to use a mainframe costing millions.

    In the late 90's, it was possible for someone to get a personal computer at a reasonable price, with sufficient power to do many mundane tasks such as text editing and spreadsheets, and later, photo and video.  To this day, it's still possible.

    Naturally, any business that requires a centralized database (banking, for example), could never be done entirely locally.

    What the cloud offers is data integrity (there is redundancy, and backups are made), wide accessibility (you can go into an internet cafe in Thailand with no devices with you, and still access your documents), and consistent user interface.

    What we give up with the cloud is privacy.  In some ways, the dumb terminal of the 1970's was more secure than the cloud, as one would have to physically travel to the computer room to do it.  Cloud security is good enough for most things I do, but I don't put my most sensitive documents and pictures on the cloud.

  • Adrian
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Somewhat similar. However, in the "old days", systems were one on one with the users, not connected to any Internet. Thus, your activity and data was relatively safe.

    Now-a-days, cloud systems can be huge targets for hackers, and your information is no longer safe.

    Anything over the Internet is a target for hackers. Period...

  • 2 months ago

    Originally, the terminal connected to a mainframe usually in the same building.  with the cloud, we're able to connect world wide.  In addition, you can select how to use the cloud, in that you can use cloud programs or just us the cloud to store files.  It's much more user friendly and adaptable.  

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  • 2 months ago

    Same idea.  It can have a lot of advantages.  With the internet, we are all one big computer no matter how much computing power we have on our terminals.

  • Scott
    Lv 6
    2 months ago

    It seems that way.  My wife works for the second largest online high school in the US and all of their work is done on the cloud. 

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