Fifty Shades of Mainframe
Hello all! Let’s take a moment out of our busy day to reflect on the 50th birthday, or anniversary if you prefer, of the IBM Mainframe.
One of the things that really had an impact on me when I read Father, Son & Co.: My Life at IBM and Beyond by Thomas J. Watson, was the size of the gamble that was going on internally. IBM spent 5 BILLION dollars developing the 360. As I recall from the book, and forgive me if I’ve messed up the details as I did not go back to reread it, had the machines not started shipping, IBM would not have been able to make payroll and the company would have collapsed.
The first month there were 1000 orders for the new machine. I have to wonder, or maybe I don’t even need to wonder, could it be done today? Is there any one with the chutzpah to bet that much money, which is just under $37 billion today, on a new product? Will we ever see that kind of innovation again, and if we do, we will recognize it as such immediately or do you really need to wait until the revolution is over?
Deep thoughts for a Monday morning. Oh by the way, what does Fifty Shades have to do with mainframes? Nothing, but we bloggers have to grab your attention. (tee hee) Ok, how about this. The System 360 actually came in FIVE different colors. I heard tell in mainframe lore that Harley Davidson had their mainframe custom plated in chrome. Can anyone confirm that?
Let’s take a look at what else was going on in April 1964:
- Gas per Gallon - 30 cents
- United States Postage Stamp - 5 cents
- Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III - $16,665
- Sidney Poitier is the first black person to win an Academy Award
- The first Ford Mustang from Ford Motor Company is made
- The Beatles hold the top 5 positions in the Billboard Top 40 singles in America, an unprecedented achievement
Below are two really good articles on the S/360. Does anyone find it interesting that they’re both in UK?
Have a great day everyone!