Evolution of the Network Computer

This old article from WIRED inspired my thoughts today: https://www.wired.com/2009/12/fail-oracle/

Larry Ellison and his cohorts came up with the idea of a simple, cheap, computer terminal that was linked, over the internet, to a central server that stored the software and did the bulk of the processing. This was announced in September of 1995. Looking back on this idea from circa November 2018, it is clear that this was one of the, if not the most, revolutionary idea in the computer industry. And I would argue one of the most powerful ideas from the entire 20th century. Certainly in terms of unit sales, the bulk of computing devices sold nowadays are developments of the network computer concept to some degree. Smartphones, Chromebooks, tablets, etc… The old paradigm of having all software stored locally on the end user device is practically extinct now, for any internet connected device.

From an engineering perspective, as well as a financial, IT, and security perspective, this evolution has improved the computing experience to both an organizational and end user. From lower costs, to simpler designs that can be made much smaller and lighter, to dramatically reduced support needed for large fleets of computers.