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A Prehistory of the Cloud$
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Tung-Hui Hu

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262029513

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262029513.001.0001

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Time-Sharing and Virtualization

Time-Sharing and Virtualization

(p.37) 2 Time-Sharing and Virtualization
A Prehistory of the Cloud

Tung-Hui Hu

The MIT Press

This chapter examines the pre-history of what is now called “cloud computing”: the idea that computer power and software could be ‘piped’ into a user’s home, like electricity or other utilities. This vision came out of a 1960s technology called time-sharing, which allowed the million-dollar cost of a computer to be shared and the computer multi-tasked. Time-sharing not only invented the modern idea of a user as a personal subject, but also positioned that user within a political economy that makes a user synonymous with his or her usage. The freedom that results, however, is a deeply ambiguous one, for the virtualization technologies that allow files and user accounts to be made private in the cloud also represent a subtle form of control.

Keywords:   virtualization, time sharing, user, privacy, immaterial labor, neoliberalism, computer viruses, digital hygiene

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