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An introduction to computers and computer systems
An introduction to computers and computer systems

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1.1 Ubiquitous computing

The term ubiquitous computing describes the idea that computers are becoming pervasive – that is, they are integrated into the world around us. The term was coined by Mark Weiser at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (better known as Xerox PARC).

Ubiquitous computing names the third wave in computing, just now beginning. First were mainframes, each shared by lots of people. Now we are in the personal computing era, person and machine staring uneasily at each other across the desktop. Next comes ubiquitous computing, or the age of calm technology, when technology recedes into the background of our lives.

(Weiser, 1996)

In other words, we each find ourselves interacting with a number of computers, each of which may itself interact with other people and other computers. Often we are not even aware of where data is coming from or where it is stored – and more than this, we’re often unaware that we are interacting with computers at all. Ubiquitous computing is clearly already with us. It is in the background of our lives, or as Weiser says, it’s calm technology.