Timesharing all over again?
People actually used online aps effectively back in the 1970's and 1980's, before personal computers were common. It worked too, even though connectivity was at speeds that are inconceivably slow today (110/300/1200 baud). Here is why it worked:
- No software was downloaded, since users had ''dumb terminals'' and a modem - no local storage or processing ability. Communications were limited to plain ASCII text. As we used to say, most people can't read at 100cps, so speed was not an issue in this environment.
- Connectivity was dial-up either directly to the server site, or via a secure packet network, often X.25 based in later years. This architecture basically limited hacking to password attacks.
- Most timesharing vendors, such as CompuServe, had very secure sites with UPSs, backup generators, and multipath datacom connectivity, so availability was not a problem.
- You could access your files from any place with telephone access. You also might have to lug around something like a TI Silent 700.
- At the time, this was the only way to play. No one expected or needed WYSIWYG word processing or spreadsheets; this was such an improvement over doing things manually that people loved it.
OK, so how does this apply to today? The Internet is basically insecure, server architectures are full of reliability and security holes, and user expectations require high-speed connectivity which is not universally available. But I just want to point out that online aps WERE done reliably, so it can be done again... but not with today's off-the-shelf Internet and operating systems.
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