1980-style Cloud Computing

Bo Gowan wrote a nice piece on yours truly, but the picture (vintage 1980) needs some explaining.


I'm thinking particularly of the device covering a good part of my desk. This was a VuCom 1 made by Control Data Corp. It was basically a CRT screen and a keyboard. It was a very heavy and very thin client connected by a 1200 bit/s async circuit to the cloud, actually a Nortel packet network.

This 'dumb terminal' knew nothing about packets, in fact, it only knew characters typed, including control characters such as carriage return. Packet processing was relegated to a shared device- a terminal server or, in the standards community, a Packet Assembler Disassembler. Terminal servers took individual characters and strings of characters, sped them up onto a 56Kbit/s 'high speed' circuit, and mapped them into packets with appropriate headers.

What could I do with such a device- surf the net of course. I could access first generation email systems and corporate directories, print off reports, and even access the National Library of Medicine (if I wanted to access thousands of medical abstracts).

This was soon to be replaced by a Mac;)

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