The concept of distributed applications is certainly not new. Whoever has a long IT career certainly remembers a number of different technologies implementing distributed components even in the early years. Nowadays, is all about microservices. They are a new form by which we consider today the concept of distributed computing.
Their peculiarity is that their communications are based essentially on REST and messaging protocols, which have the advantage of being widely spread standards. The core concept is essentially the same, having pieces of the whole system completely independent one from the other and running each in its own process.