How networking changed the way we use information

Networking:  Past and Present

Computers used to act as standalone types, meaning, they do not interact with other computers even If they are located beside each other. With such model of computing, the only way you share information is to have it printed out and have the hard copy passed on to others.

When people realized there is a need to be able to transport data from one computer to another computer, they devised primitive yet clever ways of doing that: by using removable storage devices. We are talking with the old floppy diskette, cassette, and other magnetic media. With these, you can save whatever work you did to the diskette, and then bring that diskette with you. You can either insert that diskette into the disk drive of the computer sitting next beside you, or you can take your work and do it at home. This is what the earliest form of networking looks like. It was referred to as sneaker net.

While this technique was considered very effective before, it still presents some problems. Sharing big files would mean you have to slice up the file into smaller chunks that can fit in several diskettes. You then bring those diskettes (that comes with a box for it) and re-assemble the file chunks into its original form. There are also considerable delays when you need to move files into diskettes and wait for it to be loaded back on the other computer.

When networking cables emerged, the entire concept of file transferring and sharing changed dramatically. Computer can now be connected directly to one another, or using networking devices like switches and hubs. Files and even folders can be transmitted over to the other computer in seconds. You don’t even to stand up from where you are seated. Printers can now shared by multiple computers using a server. Through the use of routers, the scope of networking became even broader because you are able to transfer files from one location to another location miles or oceans away, in real time! File sharing and collaboration has never been this easy and convenient. Today we see not just the use of networking cables, but wireless networking as well, taking data transmission to the next higher level.


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