Share Expensive Resources

The networking of computers had its origins in the late 1960s, and considerable insight is available at the Internet History Resource Centre (http://www.nethistory.info/index.html) if you’d like to know more.  Essentially it probably stemmed from the early Unix type systems where ‘dumb’ terminals were connected to larger computers for data entry via the terminals. The ‘mainframe’ computers contained the processing power and storage capacity. From those beginnings enthusiasts, boffins and hackers sought to gain access to local and stand alone computers with processing power that they could use for scientific, technological and gaming interests.

These same people then sought to find ways whereby they could share information, play games against each other and resources others had but they themselves did not, such as printers.

Share files

In our modern world, we think nothing of the fact that we can use a smart phone to look up an address we’ve been invited to, and most people would not realize they’re making use of quite sophisticated computer networks. In an office, home or other workplace, it has become common for one person to make available to another a document, letter or spreadsheet. Without a network, the first person would need to copy it to a USB drive or floppy disk which the second person could then download to their computer. These days the files we share include photographs, music & video files

Share Devices

There was a time when one would probably only refer to printers as devices being shared, especially in the time when quality laser printers, especially colour lasers were rather expensive: it did not make sense to buy one of these for each person. Shared devices nowadays extend to scanners, fax machines, plotters and probably other devices as well. The cost of laser printers has come down, and some organisations are prepared for more personnel to have local printers.

Share Internet Access

As networks have grown beyond the Local Area Network (LAN) to the Internet and Wide Area Networks (WAN), the use of the Internet for email and web browsing increased the justification for networking: it just was not practicable for each user to have their own internet connection, and the use of the Internet mandated the need for users to have unique IP addresses which are readily assigned by DHCP servers within routers and modems. Pretty quickly every user on a LAN had an email address and they could exchange email messages between each other as well as ‘external’ contacts.