Web services expert Bob Grogan traces the evolution of hardware and approaches leading up to Web services, and explains how Web services facilitate consumer transactions.
The term "Web services" has pushed its way into collective developer consciousness. Without a proper introduction, however, you might be willing to dismiss this as either more of the same or a budding technology sure to compete with everything you have created so far and, thus, an enemy. In truth, it is the nature of Web services to leverage existing code bases by adding a layer of interoperability with other legacies and new implementations. Web services recognize that anything can be treated as an independent object, as long as it belongs to an accessible interface.
For starters, the theory and practice of object-based development has only fairly recently revolutionized the way in which applications are conceived and constructed. The common-sense notion of examining a problem on the smallest level that retains all pertinent information predates computers themselves.
I will not go quite as far back as the nexus of the scientific method, but I believe that a brief legacy is in order, to give credit to the generation of thinkers who made this and future generations of computing accessible. (Incidentally, a great many of these people are still very much alive and are contributing journal articles much more sophisticated than this primer!)