If you're interested in distributed computing (and if you're reading this, you probably are), I sure hope you're also reading Werner Vogel's All Things Distributed. Last week, he mentioned an interview that ACM Queue magazine had published. Jim Gray of Microsoft Research sat down with Werner (CTO of Amazon) and did a terrific interview. Hat tip to ACM for giving them the space to have a great conversation--it runs about 8 pages long.
Reading these two discussing distributed computing is a little like listening in on Bohr and Planck talk atomic theory. They really are two of the world's preeminent authorities in this territory.
The topic of the interview is Amazon's technology, so there is a ton interesting history. Among the nuggets you'll find is that Amazon was a single, monolithic application until 2001. At that time, they changed to a service-oriented architecture (and, as Werner points out, that wasn't a buzzword back then--it's what they had to do to scale).
I won't try to summarize the whole article (you should go read it). It's a great exposition on the practical application of SOA. The relevant thing for this blog--it's distributed computing that makes the whole thing possible.