Over the past five years and only accelerating in the early part of the 2020s, one of the biggest areas that a lot of companies are looking for business IT support to implement or improve is in the field of cloud computing.

The biggest rush for this was undoubtedly in 2020 when companies who wanted to remain open for business expanded their IT operations however they could to enable workers to keep doing their jobs remotely, with cloud computing solutions at the centre of the vast majority of their operations.

The broad idea behind cloud computer services is that employees connect their devices to a secure central data centre, which stores and processes the files and applications the company uses for individuals to access, modify and utilise.

With many companies retaining a hybrid working environment, cloud services are likely to be an essential part of businesses attracting the best talent, but there was a concerted effort as early as the late 1980s.

The result was the potential for the modern computing world to have existed as early as the mid-1990s.

A Thin Vision Of The Future

Whilst cloud computing concepts have existed for almost as long as computers have, the modern history of cloud computing begins with Mark Porat, then a technology executive working for Apple Computers.

He was already a fascinating innovator and had developed several satellite-based technologies for data transfer and videoconference as part of the company Private Satellite Network before joining Apple in the late 1980s.

Once there, he quickly convinced the man who forced Steve Jobs to resign and then-CEO John Sculley that the future of computing was going to lie not in fully-featured network-independent personal computers but in thin clients, small computers that offload most of their processing onto the server.

The idea was that if the server is powerful enough then end-users would not know the difference between a weak computer running on a strong server and a strong computer, and the cost savings would be huge for businesses. This concept is, in effect, cloud computing.

Mr Sculley agreed and this led to Project Pocket Crystal, later to be spun off into a separate company known as General Magic when they struggled to get resources under Apple.

After forming in 1990, General Magic operated in stealth mode, working on a concept for a cloud computing system primarily using personal digital assistants (early predecessors to the tablet PC).

These inherently weak and small devices could access and interact with larger programs and documents on the cloud using a system called Magic Cap and Telescript, which attracted interest from investors Sony and Motorola, but not Apple themselves.

Apple, seeing the industry interest in the concept, pivoted their long-running Newton project and targeted the same market, selling their stake in General Magic and filing a lawsuit. Without the selling point of handwriting recognition, Magic Cap struggled.

Ultimately, the idea of cloud computing and thin clients struggled for years as internet speeds simply were not fast enough until the advent of broadband to make them viable.