Andrew, I started in IT long ago and remember the move from centralised computing to downsizing and distributed processing. It all became rather messy and the move back to some form of centralisation began, culminating in the cloud phiosophy. I remember developing a case study about the economics of distributed vs. centalised and the latter won hands down. This is not the case today.
Even then, there was an IoT equivalent where various bits of data were recorded then some RYO work was needed to get it read into a computer. Tachograph data from lorries springs to mind. There are other examples with similar issues in getting the stuff into computers, leading to ASICs. Good article but I thought you and your readers might like these old timer memories.