The term “computer utility” has been perennially present in the history of computing, though a precise definition of the term has been fleeting, even when it first appeared in the Mid-1960s. The recent resurgence of interest in the remote provision of computing power has brought with it the historical jumble of definitions that make up that term, and “computer utility” is once again being applied to computer architectures though with little justification or exposition given regarding this use. This article attempts to determine whether past and present applications of the term share any commonalities and in doing so questions whether there has ever existed a true “computer utility.” To do so, incarnations of the “computer utility” are examined in two time periods—the 1960s and the 1970s—during which time computer time-sharing enjoyed significant prosperity and now as cloud computing has become increasingly popular and prolific.


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pp. 13-29
Launched on MUSE
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