Economic Perspectives on the History of the Computer Timesharing Industry

37 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2006

See all articles by Martin Campbell-Kelly

Martin Campbell-Kelly

University of Warwick - Department of Computer Science

Daniel D. Garcia-Swartz

Charles River Associates - Chicago Office

Date Written: January 20, 2006

Abstract

The history of the computer timesharing industry is one of the unwritten chapters in the overall history of computing. The very few books and articles that consider computer timesharing at all treat the "computer utility" phenomenon as the industry that could have changed the shape and structure of computing but never quite did. In this paper we show that the timesharing industry - while falling short of the vision of the computer utility - constituted a major sector of the computer services industry until the early 1980s, when timesharing was made obsolescent by the personal computer. In the nearly two decades that timesharing flourished, it provided an online experience for hundreds of thousands of users and stimulated the growth of public data communications networks.

Keywords: Timesharing, Computing, History

Suggested Citation

Campbell-Kelly, Martin and Garcia-Swartz, Daniel D., Economic Perspectives on the History of the Computer Timesharing Industry (January 20, 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=880740 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.880740

Martin Campbell-Kelly (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - Department of Computer Science ( email )

Dept of Computer Science
Coventry CV4 7AL, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

Daniel D. Garcia-Swartz

Charles River Associates - Chicago Office ( email )

1 S.Wacker Drive # 3400
Chicago, IL 60606
United States

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