The Mainframe Turns 50

Fifty years ago, IBM placed a big bet on the future of computing when it introduced System/360, the first integrated family of computers aimed at both scientific and business uses. In the subsequent years, the mainframe helped to transform industries and society. It was instrumental in the modernization of banking, retail, government, manufacturing and other activities. While only a few people actually touched a mainframe computer, it touches nearly everybody’s life in some way–from your ATM machine to your doctor’s office.

Here are some pictures to help you celebrate System/360’s birthday:

IBM President Thomas J. Watson, Jr. with the System/360 in 1964.
IBM President Thomas J. Watson, Jr. with the System/360 in 1964.
A System/360 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.
A System/360 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.
According to IBM, "A standard interface made it easy for businesses to attach peripheral products to the System/360 processors. Third-party suppliers and manufacturers soon offered plug-compatible peripheral products."
A standard interface made it easy for businesses to attach peripheral products to the System/360 processors. Third-party suppliers and manufacturers soon offered plug-compatible peripheral products.
Tape drives for the System/360.
Tape drives for the System/360.
Lots of tapes.
Lots of tapes.
Five System/360 machines were used by NASA for the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon in 1969. This System/360 Model 75 in Houston "calculated liftoff data needed by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin for the flight back to Earth."
Five System/360 machines were used by NASA for the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon in 1969. This System/360 Model 75 in Houston “calculated liftoff data needed by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin for the flight back to Earth.”
An IBM System/360 Model 91 at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
An IBM System/360 Model 91 at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
Before a System/360 was delivered to Tokai Bank in Japan, "all operations were performed manually, forcing employees to run calculations on abacuses into the late hours of the night."
Before a System/360 was delivered to Tokai Bank in Japan, “all operations were performed manually, forcing employees to run calculations on abacuses into the late hours of the night.”
They also came in blue.
They also came in blue.

Watch the replay of the April 8 NYC Mainframe50 event.

Learn more at ibm.com/mainframe50/
More at Mainframe50 on Tumblr

2 thoughts

  1. I went to college using the IBM S3 I believe a more compact main frame computer that uses peripherals such as decollators, key punch screens magnetic tapes and punch cards. Studying computer programming led us as a team to develop complex customer service programs that truncate data to maximize storage. CICS/VC Later the IBM 4100 series of computers were introduced into the market place. Mainframes minis for example gave me the opportunity to be placed in a comparable work environment. What main frames are in the job market today for instance that would enable workers to gain valuable work experience?

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