Since the day of the inception of the first web server in 1990, server hardware has dramatically evolved. Here’s a chronological analysis of the server hardware history.

For tech geeks and IT experts, the origin of servers is no less charming than a fascinating tale. The history of server hardware is enthralling because it unveils how rapidly technology evolved. Besides the role of technology in data centers, development is also apparent from the history of servers.

A server can be defined as a piece of a computer program that provides functionality for other programs. Servers perform a range of tasks from securely moving files between computers to sharing software or hardware resources with a client.


Server hardware timeline depicting important advancements

The tech ecosystem is gradually marching to an era of advancement. Now we witness many types of servers ranging from application and proxy servers to policy, file, and virtual servers. Let’s take a moment and appreciate the time frame and efforts through which enterprises have moved to such advanced strata. Let’s go back to the time when it all started, and proceed chronologically.

1981: The dream of an advanced server solution The year 1981 isn’t well-marked in the history of server hardware, but it is indeed important. 1981 is the year when IBM launched its first server over BITNET with a virtual machine mainframe. In 1981 the first LISTSERV was hosted that spurred group email collaborations.

1990: The establishment of the world’s first official server hardware

1990 is the official year when the world officially got its first web server. Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web at CERN in 1989. Following that. By Dec. 25, 1990, he had developed the world’s first web server on a NeXt computer. You can still find the server at CERN. What’s more stunning is that the device had a 2 GB disk, a 256 MHz CPU, and a greyscale monitor. The first web server was installed in California outside of Europe in December 1991, at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre.

1993: The rising of rack servers

By 1992, the WW project had boomed drastically to include a list of other webservers. In the year 1993, Compaq released its line of ProLiant rack-mounted servers. Around the year 1993, organizations developed a principle or moving all servers and equipment to one room, known as the server rooms. Eventually, the rooms were designed to address security and temperature monitoring issues, which paved the way for modern-day guidelines to get server temperature right.

Now the thermal range of operation for IT equipment that is typically accepted by many facility managers and data center administrators is governed by ASHRAE guidelines. But, previously data center operation was reliant on huge, singular server rooms.

CERN put the WWW project into the public domain by 1993, which propelled its growth to more than 500 known web servers by the end of 1993. The progress was skyrocketing at such a rate that by the end of 1994, there were over 10,000 servers and more than 10 million users worldwide.
In 1998, Google established its first server, known as the Sun Ultra 2. By the year 1999, with the advancement of servers, VMware launched the VMware workstation to enable servers of virtualizing x86 and x64 architectures.

2001: The arrival of a new commercialized blade server

Blade servers address several limitations of the rack-mounted server blueprint, and so they were a leap ahead in the history of server hardware. Blade servers were the result of the innovations of David Kirkeby and Christopher Hipp, who worked for RLX technologies. The newly formed servers address a wide variety of functionality, such as networking hardware cooling, etc. They used fewer components than the rack servers to save space and minimize power consumption. The result was magnificent, and organizations experienced a massive increase in efficiency and productivity with the strategic use of the resources.

2005: The evolution of discrete server management techniques

When the bled server emerged, IT architects because more focused on developing hardware for better performance and efficiency. The technique of remote server management appeared that reduced the number of IT administrators for server room management and improved hardware efficiency. In the year 2009, a hyper-converged infrastructure was founded that aimed to provide a simpler alternative to traditional IT infrastructure. HCI pulled together storage, compute power, and hypervisor technology in a streamlined system.

2013: The emergence of the world’s first software-defined server

In the year 2013, Moonshot was developed by HP Labs that was the first software-defined server available in the market. As compared to conventional, old-fashioned severs, Moonshot exhibited the ability to run on low-energy microprocessors. The servers were designed to manage massive amounts of information and handle specific data center workloads while using less energy and space.

Gradually, virtualization arrived into the tech vogue, and the notion of a more efficient and versatile cloud server began to circulate. The progress was manifold post-2013, and in the year 2019, IDC confirmed the worldwide server market to grow to $25.4 billion.

A close look at the future of server hardware

The future of server hardware is quite eminent from its history. As per the prevailing norms, the server hardware is expected to become more compact, more efficient, and more simplified. The focus will tremendously shift to the virtualization, noticing the scenario as of now. The worldwide server market will grow exponentially as data centers grow to address more diverse infrastructure. The bottom line is servers will evolve as per the increasing demands in performance, efficiency, and volume.