The Sixth Platform
Sunday, December 28, 2008
How many different hardware platform styles have we seen in the history of business computing? Let's count.
First were mainframes, appearing in the 1960s. Next were minicomputers, which got popular in the 1970s. Desktop computers were next, in the eighties, followed by servers based on similar technology. I'd also argue that mobile devices, especially phones, qualify as an important platform style.
Mainframes, minicomputers, desktops, servers, mobile phones: That's five platform styles in a little less than 50 years. New kinds of hardware platforms for business computing just don't appear very often.
Yet one is being born right now: The cloud is the sixth platform.
New platforms don't replace what came before--they add another option. Just as mainframes weren't wiped out by minicomputers, desktop machines, or anything else, so the cloud won't eliminate any of the earlier platform styles. It just provides another choice for us to use.
Given how rarely new platform styles appear, we're all lucky to be here when one is emerging. For anybody who cares about technology, it's a great time to be alive.