The superior usability of the PC with its mouse for input and the ability to quickly relay information in a language neutral manner via a graphical user interface became the client platform with which we could develop rich applications. These applications were rich in functionality since they could take advantage of local (client PC’s) processing power, memory and disks for data storage. The redistribution of processing eased the burden on the central server by distributing the load. This also enabled central SQL databases on the server, to handle the load on a machine with much less horsepower then what a mainframe provided.
The ability to take advantage of developing applications with your own personal computer and the ability to provide rich functionality with processing that occurs on the users own computer enabled a plethora of application development. And the rush was on. Robust applications were being developed and distributed at a tremendous rate. At this time in history I was an MIS director of several companies in the early 90’s and a I embraced this client server distributed rich client development platform. It was a glorious era that in my mind finally relegated mainframes and the central server notion to the same fate as the dinosaurs.
As the mid 1990’s approached, powerful graphical development languages and operating systems became available at low cost and provided high productivity. Long live Rich Client-Server applications. Now for the bad news. The support for upgrading applications that were distributed across my WAN was taking its toll. I cunningly avoided this support nightmare by moving into a consulting role running my own business, but I did my part to build the plethora of business applications that delivered Windows applications in a client server environment that utilized relational databases and Wide area networks. Ok, ok, I admitted it, I wasn’t so cunning. Unscrupulous company principles stole my golden parachute and my disenchantment with corporate America pushed me into being in charge of my own destiny and so I started my own computer consulting business. But I’m not bitter.
The revolution was in full swing. The overhead of distributed components was offset in my ability to deliver applications in a RAD (Rapid Application Development) manner. And as it turned out, the demand for application hungry users was exceeding IT departments ability to keep users productive. As a result, IT departments purchased client applications like Microsoft’s Word, Excel and other third party applications and controls at a tremendous rate. And if that wasn’t enough, super users in departments were even writing their own applications. Deployment, maintainability, upgrades, support, dll hell, etc.. became an increasing burden. Being rich doesn’t solve everything but it sure is better than not being rich.