From Mainframes to the Cloud: A History of Federal Data Centers (Infographic)

Remember mainframe computers? Named for the large metal frames they were originally housed in, these data processing systems are still in use today, though they now consist of networked workstations and servers instead of room-sized, walk-in computers.

For more than 100 years, the federal government has had an interest in data centers, and the earliest ones were quite costly and bulky. During the 1960s, businesses could rent out space in mainframes for specific purposes, and starting in the 1980s, computers became more widely used in offices and at home, so servers, or “microcomputers” were set up in server rooms inside company walls. When Internet businesses began popping up in the 1990s, the need for data centers became more apparent, as businesses needed quick establishment on the Internet. During the 2000s, consumption and energy became top concerns, which led to the cloud age – a way to consolidate data centers – in recent years.

This infographic from FedTech Magazine shows the timeline of mainframes to the cloud and how the federal government has used them, from the Decennial Census in 1890 to federal data centers in the 1960s to the cloud migration of the past few years.

History of Federal Data Centers


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