Becoming Golden—IBM’s Mainframe Turns 50 (Part 1 of 3)
Longevity is a trait that doesn’t get much respect in the tech industry. That’s partly an issue that arose as new technologies regularly entered and then dominated industries and commercial sectors. But cultural factors contribute, as well. Much of the vibrancy of IT arises from the start-up culture and youthful frontline employees who willingly take on crushing 80-hour work weeks for a chance to become millionaires (or billionaires, if Facebook takes a fancy to you).
That sort of success is the tech industry equivalent of winning the lottery, but there is actually a form of success that’s even rarer—creating, nurturing and evolving a technology that becomes elemental to the fabric of IT for years or decades. Most are simple and not so simple components—CPU architectures, storage media, memory and so on. Far fewer are complex platforms, and the most exceptionally long-lived—IBM’s signature mainframe (now System z) platform—celebrated the 50th anniversary of its introduction last week.
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NOTE: This column was originally published in the Pund-IT Review.