‘Framing the Future: Part 2 – Son of the IBM

Reg Harbeck’s interview of Connor Krukosky

There are a very few hereditary mainframers out there. You know: people whose parents, grandparents or other progenitors worked on the IBM mainframe, either directly for IBM or one of the other members of our ecosystem in a mainframe role and passed the mantle on to them.

But there are quite a few more of us who have found that we belong “in the family” due to the compatibility of our background with the concepts, culture and technology of the mainframe, and have found ourselves warmly welcomed when we were recognized as “one of us” after demonstrating a natural fit with the platform.

In the case of Connor Krukosky, he has had multiple generations preparing him to be a mainframer – and, of course, multiple generations accepting him on to the platform as one of our own.

One may guess at the misty pasts of his family tree, but it was already apparent with his grandfather, a machinist, that Connor would naturally tend to take things apart, put them together and seek to gain a very functional knowledge of them. Certainly, having a role model with a lathe did him a good turn indeed!

This was encouraged and supported by his parents, who purchased and encouraged his vigorous investigation, de-and-reconfiguration and use of computing equipment from a very young age. So, by the time he was in his late teens, it was a natural next step on his journey to jump at the opportunity to purchase a second-hand IBM z890 mainframe online for just over $200 (and then nearly again as much each month in electricity).

Did I say “supported”? Well, helping him pick up the machine counts as supported. But digging a hole in their basement wall to make room to deliver it is somewhat more heroic than mere support. This aspires to the standard of Kal-El’s parents.

When you have parents like that, who believe in you and show you with such heroic actions, the sky certainly is no limit. And so this guy was indeed unlimited as he painstakingly took apart, relocated, put together and slowly brought up his mainframe in his basement. And I have to think his parents probably had to play modest like Clark Kent’s when talking to the parents of other kids whose basement computing endeavors were limited to video games.

Now, if you’re a mainframer, you probably grew up feeling like stories such as “The Ugly Duckling” were written about you, and finding your true company among the swans (or more likely eagles) that make the mainframe their home. Certainly, Connor didn’t have to soar far to connect with our computing community.

In fact, it was in Googling for answers about how to get his mainframe running that he discovered – and was discovered by – the folks on IBM-Main. Soon, he was filling his plate with helpful information and invitations to further involvement, including an invitation to attend SHARE in San Antonio!

Talk about a homecoming! The room where Connor presented about his mainframe experience was overflowing! And while you might say that a star was born, it would probably be more appropriate to say that the prodigious son had arrived among his natural family.

By the next SHARE in Atlanta, Connor had been accepted into the SHARE culture and invited to many of our networking hangouts. I am happy to brag about having had the opportunity of a long and wide-ranging philosophical discussion with him that was thoroughly enjoyable. And, of course, our colleagues at IBM knew they’d found a live one, and took the opportunity to invite him to the beating heart of the IBM mainframe: Poughkeepsie!

Yes, before even finishing his first university degree, at an age when many young people haven’t yet decided what their college major will be, Connor Krukosky had accepted a job with the company that invented the mainframe (and so much else of the best of computing).

So he deliberately chose a house that was older than the 360 mainframe (or even SHARE – it was built in 1952) and relocated to the nexus. Where IBM immediately put him to work doing boring bureaucratic stuff.

Just kidding, of course. Connor had arrived at the center of the mainframe universe, and must have felt like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. Basically, IBM has since been giving him what amounts to an extend tour of the world of mainframe technology and technologists, having early access to excellent innovations like the z14, and all the VM guests he can play with.

And what does he do with all those guest machines? If you guessed … oh, wait. Why don’t we save that for next time?

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