Not so long ago, the data that were not already on your computer or on the one to which your computer was connected were distributed by sending media via mail (no, that would be regular mail). First there were floppy discs with storage density maxing out at 720KB (yes, kilobytes); then came double density, 3.5-inch floppies encased in hard plastic with a whopping 1.4MB of storage, which were replaced by CD and DVD in a few short years.

About the same time, Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs) came into existence. Among other things, they allowed for downloading data (software, games, pictures) via dial-up connections. Then the Internet took off with the release of the first Netscape browser, which opened the small universe of academia and technically savvy hobbyists to the entire world, and the data locked into the puddles of individual machines joined together to form the ocean of information sloshing around the globe 24/7.

The data moved ever further from the individual computers. First, data were put on the servers to which client computers could have direct access through dedicated cable connections; then the dedicated connections were replaced by those provided as part of Internet infrastructure. Finally, the servers disappeared into virtual reality. You don't have to buy hardware anymore to have a dedicated server machine, not even an operating system. Now you can easily procure a virtual server at a fraction of the cost that, for all intents and purposes, behaves ...

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