In the 1990s, a number of significant technologies evolved, changing the IT environment in which grid computing evolved.
• The World Wide Web, 1990 : A researcher at CERN, Tim Berners Lee, started work on the World Wide Web, culminating in CERN releasing the Web to the world in 1993. The Web plays a crucial role in simplifying communications in almost all aspects of life.
• The Linux operating system, 1991 : Linus Torvalds, then at the University of Helsinki, began work on this open source operating system. Today, Linux attracts thousands of unpaid programmers who ensure that it works with every new piece of hardware that comes along. This is one reason why Linux is the preferred operating system for many grid testbeds.
• Beowulf PC clusters, 1994 : The first cluster of cheap "commodity" computers was put together by Donald Becker and Thomas Sterling at NASA. They used Ethernet cards to provide high speed links between the computers, emulating the sort of computing power previously available only from expensive supercomputers. Now such clusters are commercially available, pre-assembled, from most PC manufacturers. Grid computing relies on such clusters.
• Java, 1995 : Software engineers at Sun Microsystems designed this programming language to be independent of the computer it is running on. Java was initially designed for consumer appliances, not computers. Java is an extremely popular grid programming language and well-adapted to the grid philosophy.