As with any technology, InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is a combination of solutions to problems that had existed in the past. Storage technology is at the core of everything we think of as computers.
Player Pianos, dating back to the early 18th century, were the first real form of digital storage. The notches on a steel cylinder pulled tensioned lines, effectively playing a song when the springs were pulled by an attendant. Our modern hard drives are not much more complex than this, using electrical charge rather than the mechanical potential of a spring, but otherwise very similar.
In the early days of computing, storage devices were coupled with processing units in single purpose systems; however, with the introduction of high-speed internet, these two components are now commonly separated by hundreds of miles. As cloud services have grown, the notion of storage has shifted from physical hard drives to a network of high-availability devices for rent.
The goal of IPFS is to provide a common protocol for networks of computers to use to share their storage. This quickly growing community has collaborated to build this open-source project which might truly become an InterPlanetary File System.