Technology has revolutionised society and it's changed the way we live. As of 2012, the average Australian household had 2.53 computers (not including other smart devices). For a device that plays such a pivotal role in our lives, the majority of computer owners don't fully understand the history of computing or how it evolved into what you're looking at (apologies if you're reading this on a smart phone). Once we understand the history of computing, we can begin to chart the next step in the evolution process. This step involves the buzz words of the last few years - cloud computing and data migration.
After the second World War, much of the technology manufactured for warfare became redundant. However, some opportunists recognised that there could be a commercial use for this technology. One important concept you should be aware of is that the 'computer age' is really just a series of computer ages. Put simply, the computer wasn't just invented one day, there was a process of reinvention and redefinition which resulted in the modern day computer. Various countries were creating technology which would eventually be used as the basis for the computer. However they were at different stages, creating the technology for different commercial purposes.
The Race Is On
In the United States, Eckert & Mauchly developed the UNIVAC. This device would simplify the punched card system, which was used primarily as a way of processing and recording information (eg. sales records, equipment). The UNIVAC could automate this process, thereby saving businesses money on wages (it sort of evened out when you take into consideration the UNIVAC was a large machine which wasn't the cheapest or easiest device to build at the time). In Britain, catering firm J. Lyons & Company had installed a commercial computer before the UNIVAC served a commercial purpose in America. Japan was quite slow out of the blocks, failing to produce vacuum tube computers. However by the 1980's they were able to wrestle a foothold in the market when they revolutionised integrated circuit production.
Although there were a number of companies attempting to harness and explore this technology, IBM is widely regarded the leader of the pack. A huge development came in 1956 when IBM created the worlds first computer hard disk drive, the IBM 305 RAMAC. There was no way it could be mass produced yet though, the 305 RAMAC was enormous. It was bigger than a refrigerator and weighed more than me during my 'M&M obsession' stage. Although it wasn't a household item yet, IBM made and sold these computers to governments and corporations. In 1981, IBM released the IBM Personal Computer 5150. This was huge. Although computers weren't popularised until the 1990's, IBM was able to offer a household computer device.
The invention of the computer was the catalyst for what many regard as the third industrial revolution. This industrial revolution was centred around electronics, IT and automated production. It re-defined the way we work and live.
The Next Step - Data Migration
Fast forward 25 years and we have a device that is incredibly fast, light and capable of running advanced software. Responsible for the third industrial revolution, the computer has a role to play in the next industrial revolution. Many tech experts believe we're in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution, one that's centred around cyber physical systems and artificially intelligent devices. It's expected that the next industrial revolution will incorporate a wide array of devices, not just computers. However computers still have a role to play.
Currently, many companies are still running legacy systems. This means that data is stored natively, i.e. separately on each computer. This may include database records, spreadsheets, text files, scanned images or specific programs that must be installed on a device - think Microsoft Office CD's. Data migration is the process of importing legacy software/data to a new system. Importantly, this process allows businesses to migrate to the cloud. As we transition into the fourth industrial revolution, it will be critical for these smart devices to be able to access information hosted in cloud storage. As a result if a business wants to utilise the technology/smart devices that will soon become available to society it needs to migrate to the cloud. The way to do that whilst retaining all your current data? Data migration, and the best place to start is here.