A Historical Perspective by Mark Stone

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Forget about computing for the moment, and think about a more familiar, every day concept: money. Think of just a few salient changes money has undergone over the centuries.

Originally to use money you had to physically possess it, and had to be able to physically transfer it to someone else to engage in a monetary transaction. The earliest money had to be composed of something of value (gold coin) or backed by something of value (the gold standard).

The inefficiency with this approach was that most money sat idle most of the time. Money has the potential to do work for you; money can earn more money. But it can't do that sitting in your pocket, or locked in a safe.

Today the monetary system has been virtualized. Cash is available from 100s of thousands of worlwide locations, and most financial transactions are entirely electronic. We have gone from the point where cash was a dedicated resource needed to execute financial transactions to the point where money simply lives in the financial "cloud" where we can access it on demand.

Next: The Inefficiencies of the PC Revolution

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