The Cloud Imperative


Facebook’s data center in Prineville, Oregon.

Image credit: Jason Madara

By Simson L. Garfinkel

Before Facebook and Google—even before the Internet—scientists at MIT had a radical vision they called the computer utility.

“Computing may someday be organized as a public utility just as the telephone system is a public utility,” Professor John McCarthy said at MIT’s centennial celebration in 1961. “Each subscriber needs to pay only for the capacity he actually uses, but he has access to all programming languages characteristic of a very large system … Certain subscribers might offer service to other subscribers … The computer utility could become the basis of a new and important industry.”


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