The history of file sharing is unique in that it is a history that is steeped with controversies that have forced people to consider the legality of file sharing as a practice. One could argue that the history of file sharing stretches all the way back to the history of sharing, before digital file sharing technologies were available, and before the Internet.
However, for the sake of this blog post, we’ll be exploring the history of file sharing starting just before the birth of the Internet.
The Birth of File Sharing
During the Internet’s infancy, before it was named the “Internet” it was referred to as ARPANET, and file sharing was a practice reserved only for the most tech savvy of computer users. File sharing was also really considered more file transferring, as it usually consisted of manually transferring files with a technological medium like a floppy disc.
In 1962, a conference was held in Ann Arbor, Michigan to bring ARPA researchers together and begin to create the structure for the ARPANET. In 1972, email was born, allowing computer users for the first time to send files to one another via the Internet. It wasn’t until 1978, when smaller personal computers were introduced and software to connect to the Internet was created, that the Internet was made available to the general public.
Napster Introduces the World to (Illegal) File Sharing
Though it wasn’t around long, Napster was one of the first major file sharing services that was not only available to the public, but easy for everyday (non-tech-savvy) people to understand and use. Napster was a file sharing application that used a central server to organize file swapping between users.
The Napster platform was different from file sharing via email in that it served more as a gathering place for people to share music files with people/sources from around the world. Though Napster no longer exists, it had a huge impact on not only the way in which people share files, but it also had an effect on how the public views file sharing as a practice.
The Clouds Roll In
In 2002, the concept of “the Cloud” was introduced. However, it wasn’t until 2007 when Google Docs was launched that remote file sharing and file storage started to gain some momentum amongst Internet users. 2007 also saw the beginning of mobile file sharing capabilities with new and popular mobile technologies like the iPhone, and other mobile devices.
The Future of File Sharing
It will be interesting to see how remote file sharing as a practice evolves in the future. Taking a look at the cloud security trends of 2012, one can assume that file sharing will only continue to grow in popularity and evolve into a more secure practice (as more and more people use these services and demand that their data stay secure).