How Cloud Computing Works (Infographic)

Infographic: How cloud computing works.
How the history of computers has brought us to the age of cloud computing. (Image credit: by Karl Tate, Infographics Artist)

Soon, your smartphone, TiVo, laptop, television -- all of your current gadgets -- will be obsolete. The future is “ubiquitous computing.” Think Google Docs, but on every screen you use,  running every program you use -- every device drawing from the same pool of data and processing power. Here’s how we got to this point.

Related: History of computers: A brief timeline


In the mainframe era, multiple people waited for access to giant computers that could fill an entire room. Users accessed the same centrally located data and processors through telex machines, and later video screens. 


In the personal computer era, smaller chips and cheaper data storage allowed each person to have their own computer. The PC was at first completely self-contained, but later wired networks began enabling users to share data between their computers.


In the Internet era, each person still worked at a PC that housed the memory, inputs and processors that make up a computer. However, users began spending more and more time accessing Web pages and downloading media content located on remote servers. 


In the emerging ubiquitous computing era, every device accesses all its data and processing power from the Internet “cloud.” The devices themselves need not have any on-board processing or data storage, reducing their price and increasing their deployment. Additionally, the interface will move beyond the mouse and keyboard into task specific form-factors. Computers will be everywhere, but you won't even notice them. 

Karl Tate
LiveScience Infographic Artist
Karl has been Purch's infographics specialist across all editorial properties since 2010.  Before joining Purch, Karl spent 11 years at the New York headquarters of The Associated Press, creating news graphics for use around the world in newspapers and on the web.  He has a degree in graphic design from Louisiana State University.