Significant new inventions in computing since 1980

This question arose from comments about different kinds of progress in computing over the last 50 years or so.

I was asked by some of the other participants to raise it as a question to the whole forum.

The basic idea here is not to bash the current state of things but to try to understand something about the progress of coming up with fundamental new ideas and principles.

I claim that we need really new ideas in most areas of computing, and I would like to know of any important and powerful ones that have been done recently. If we can’t really find them, then we should ask “Why?” and “What should we be doing?”

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The Internet itself pre-dates 1980, but the World Wide Web (“distributed hypertext via simple mechanisms”) as proposed and implemented by Tim Berners-Lee started in 1989/90.

While the idea of hypertext had existed before (Nelson’s Xanadu had tried to implement a distributed scheme), the WWW was a new approach for implementing a distributed hypertext system. Berners-Lee combined a simple client-server protocol, markup language, and addressing scheme in a way that was powerful and easy to implement.

I think most innovations are created in re-combining existing pieces in an original way. Each of the pieces of the WWW had existed in some form before, but the combination was obvious only in hindsight.

And I know for sure that you are using it right now.

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