The term Grid computing originated in the early 1990s as a metaphor for making computer power as easy to access as an electric power grid in Ian Foster and Carl Kesselmans seminal work, "The Grid: Blueprint for a new computing infrastructure". CPU scavenging and volunteer computing were popularized beginning in 1997 by and later in 1999 by SETI@home to harness the power of networked PCs worldwide, in order to solve CPU-intensive research problems. The ideas of the grid (including those from distributed computing, object oriented programming, cluster computing, web services and others) were brought together by Ian Foster, Carl Kesselman and Steve Tuecke, widely regarded as the "fathers of the grid." They led the effort to create the Globus Toolkit incorporating not just computation management but also storage management, security provisioning, data movement, monitoring and a toolkit for developing additional services based on the same infrastructure including agreement negotiation, notification mechanisms, trigger services and information aggregation. While the Globus Toolkit remains the defacto standard for building grid solutions, a number of other tools have been built that answer some subset of services needed to create an enterprise or global grid.

The Enabling Grids for E-sciencE project, which is based in the European Union and includes sites in Asia and the United States, is a follow up project to the European DataGrid (EDG) and is arguably the largest computing grid on the planet. This, along with the LHC Computing Grid (LCG) have been developed to support the experiments using the CERN Large Hadron Collider. The LCG project is driven by CERN's need to handle huge amounts of data, where storage rates of several gigabytes per second (10 petabytes per year) are required. A list of active sites participating within LCG can be found online as can real time monitoring of the EGEE infrastructure. The relevant software and documentation is also publicly accessible.