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This year (2014) the IBM mainframe computers turned 50 years old!
The IBM System 360 (S/360) was introduced on April 7, 1964. It came in a number of models ranging from the small Model 20 with as little as 4 KB of core memory and .0018 MIPS (Millions of Instructions Per Second) to the largest Model 70 with a whopping 8 MB of memory and running at a blinding 0.09 MIPS (at WCB where I work these days mainframe system runs 1,966 MIPS and uses 208 GB of memory).
The smaller systems typically used an operating system called DOS/360 (Disk Operating System/360) while the larger models used Operating System/360 (OS/360) or Multiprogramming with a Variable number of Tasks (MVT) which evolved into the z/OS WCB runs today. The machines were initially sold with IBM 2311 disk drives holding a staggering 7.2 MB on six platters and transferred data at 156 KB/sec. (WCB’s mainframe uses a large number and variety of disk drive sizes from 146 GB to 900 GB and transfers data at over 200 MB/sec). S/360 introduced a number of firsts in the industry including exploiting microcode technology. It was the first family of machines that were software compatible across a wide range of speeds. This preserved customers’ investment in application software while allowing flexibility in choice of processor speed as well as an ongoing upgrade path. In fact, many programs written for this machine would still work on WCB’s system today, not to say the mainframe has stood still. Today, it runs UNIX, LINIX, JAVA, and native web applications to mention just a few.
Mainframe Computers – Golden Anniversary Celebration – April 7th
Fifty years ago, on April 7, 1964, IBM CEO Thomas Watson Jr. unveiled the System/360 line of mainframe computers, saying at the press conference that this radical product was “the beginning of a new generation, not only of computers, but of their applications in business, science and government”.
He was right. Historians call System/360 one of the most important industrial achievements in history. And over the course of five decades, the descendants of the 360 – mainframe computers, like today’s IBM zEnterprise – have made possible the creation of bar codes, ATMs, electronic stock trading, on-line travel reservations, weather modeling and countless other inventions that have changed the way the world works.
On April 7th and 8th, we invite you to celebrate IBM Mainframe50 with us! Today’s IBM Mainframe, the zEnterprise continues to drive the evolving IT landscape and create new trends in computing with its built from the ground up cloud and hybrid architecture and capabilities, to in-transaction analytics, unparalleled security and as an engine for mobile computing. The latest generation IBM mainframe continues to enable IBM clients to tackle the most challenging business problems and opportunities, to drive industry innovations and societal progress.
Have a good and healthy season.
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