cloud computing (1996)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Jan 14 06:03:24 UTC 2013

Nice piece tracing the origins of "cloud computing" to usage in late
1996 by two technology executives at Compaq Computer named George
Favaloro and Sean O'Sullivan. (The article notes that the "cloud"
metaphor was already in use in describing telecommunications
Who Coined 'Cloud Computing'?
Antonio Regalado, October 31, 2011

[begin excerpt]
Exactly which of the men — Favaloro or O'Sullivan — came up with the
term cloud computing remains uncertain. Neither recalls precisely when
the phrase was conceived. Hard drives that would hold e-mails and
other electronic clues from those precloud days are long gone.
Favaloro believes he coined the term. From a storage unit, he dug out
a paper copy of a 50-page internal Compaq analysis titled "Internet
Solutions Division Strategy for Cloud Computing" dated November 14,
1996. []
The document accurately predicts that enterprise software would give
way to Web-enabled services, and that in the future, "application
software is no longer a feature of the hardware—but of the Internet."
O'Sullivan thinks it could have been his idea — after all, why else
would he later try to trademark it? He was also a constant presence at
Compaq's Texas headquarters at the time. O'Sullivan located a daily
planner, dated October 29, 1996, in which he had jotted down the
phrase "Cloud Computing: The Cloud has no Borders" following a meeting
with Favaloro that day. That handwritten note and the Compaq business
plan, separated by two weeks, are the earliest documented references
to the phrase "cloud computing" that Technology Review was able to
[end excerpt]

Looking forward to seeing how the OED cites O'Sullivan's daily planner entry.


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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