20 Years of IT History: Connecting Devices, Data and People

The story of the past 20 years of technology has been all about connecting the dots between computers, data and the people who use them.

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For the last few decades, the world’s networking engineers have done prodigies in building track just in front of the advancing locomotive of Internet traffic. But recently the locomotive has been gaining. We might be just a few years away from a new kind of Internet, one in which applications are triaged and bandwidth is metered and everybody has to make do with performance levels far below ideal.

While there are many culprits, the biggest appetite out there belongs to video. (In March 2007 more than 100 billion videos were watched by users in the U.S. alone. That’s a lot.) Almost every day brings news of a new Internet video application, from movies on demand to TV-over-IP to civic and or educational applications of YouTube. NBC has just announced that it is planning to use the Internet to carry more than 2,000 hours of Olympics coverage next summer, and NBC will not be the only network streaming from Beijing.

Comparable developments are unfolding in many enterprises as video is used for more functions, from videoconferencing to speeches by management to remote attendance at important conferences. Eventually “bandwidth rationing” will probably arrive even in companies with 10-gigabit LANs, and you can guess on whose shoulders the task of imposing that rationing is going to fall.

That's right. The CIO.

2007: The iPhone

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The iPhone: The last word in connectivity? Or the beginning of a new chapter? We'll see.

Steve Jobs demonstrates that he finally and totally and conclusively gets the difference between machines that compute and machines that connect.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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