The Missing link 1975 2016 – Main Frames

Computer Genesis: Perspective 1975 – 2016

(See what I am talking about)

The Name of the Game

IBM’S high-density super-fast microcircuit (Jun, 1979)

(See also: The Missing Link 1975 2016 Personal Computers)

(See also: Internet)

From the advantage point of 2020: why IBM is vanishing

In the opening of the Genese do Computador (Computer Genesis) I stated my intention to give a perspective for further investigation and ended up with the generation idea to figure out the development occurred. I also ended up showing up the leading technologies then used by IBM and unfortunately it didn’t become clear but the size to get an x number of bytes per square inch was the key issue, because, taking the same amount of computing power, the cubic (and the square) feet to have such a machine was and is a direct function of that. Not to mention the cost, specially the initial investment, installation and maintenance. This is extremely well discussed in detail for the IBM 1401, which is the first “mass-produced” computer and it is the logical basis to take into account when deciding to put to the market a machine, any size.

And it is one piece of a correct frame of mind (among others, listed bellow) to understand what happened and is still happening.Although in the pointer file which brought you here I still frame it up under the generation concepts, I want to branch out to a more proper way to see what happened, to justify my point that there are better ways now to understand what happened and what is going on.

Not necessarily in order of importance, the following cross sectioning concepts are better for the understanding the evolution of computers and the like from 1975 to this day (2016)

1 – Figure out what is involved in the creation of a modern computer, and the example given here is the IBM 1401

2 – The cost factor, the money involved, the accessibility to the equipment due to economical constraints and its influence also in the manufacturers and manufacturing.

3 – Technology involved: the power up escalation and the shrinking down and its effects in products that can be created and its influence in mankind and its endeavours

4 – The new products and the ergonomic factor

5 – The shape of things to come Microsoft, Apple, Internet, Google, Android, etc

What, then, should be used in place of the generation idea?

Basically two things:

1rst. If we are discussing the same product, the reference is the model. The example anyone understands is the I phone, which runs by models, 

2nd. What kind of product and to what purpose it is designed

Under the above criteria, i.e., models and purpose, you can see all of them (mainframes) and details at IBM site. What follows is a kind of summarization or wrap up to make a point, because it is not only very difficult to figure it out, but it is also extremely boring.

The picture

Why people were willing to pay so much for these machines

From the inception till 1975, or even a few years before, the emphasis was on the hardware.But still price was not really objection, because although the IBM 1401 was rented by 2500 dollars a month and it was not sold and typically large systems would rent for more than 10000 dollars a month, the direct price of the hardware involved, for these machines industry oriented, was a fraction of that and this enabled IBM to pay the expenses to develop the IBM System 360 and the following which would come. But always with a significant price reduction, i.e., prices have since then always came down. The 1401 was withdrawn in 1971.

It is quite a mess to try to cover all the prices of IBM’s equipment , although it could be done, it suffices to point out price ranges along a timeline. Better yet for a period or a family of machines. Because this will be indirectly discussed later under the technology involved, which makes more sense.

At the beginning – The fifties

These big systems, before the 360 era amounted to a couple of dozen, if that much, and for instance, an IBM 7094, withdrawn in 1969, was sold for $3,134,500 with a complete package not only the machine programs, but also Fortran, Cobol and all the input output systems, including sorting.

Coming of age – Early sixties

At the entry-level, the monthly rental for a basic RAMAC was $3,200, of which $650 was for the disk storage unit, $1,625 for the processing unit and power supply, and $925 for the console, printer and card punch. More than a thousand of these vacuum tube-based computers were built before production ended in 1961.

The IBM 7030 Data Processing System — or “Stretch” computer — was delivered in April 1961, offering a performance that was 200 times faster than the IBM 701, 40 times faster than the IBM 709 and seven times faster than the IBM 7090. Although the 7030 was the industry’s fastest computer in 1961, its performance was far less than originally predicted. IBM cut its price from $13.5 million to $7.8 million and offered the 7030 to only eight customers.

System 360 – Late sixties early seventies

IBM really got started as a giant it became with the System 360. They sold by the hundreds, even the thousands in the smaller models. The 360 family was composed of the following machines

The IBM 1130 Computing System was announced in February 1965 as the “lowest-priced stored program computer ever marketed by IBM.” Capable of performing 120,000 additions a second, the system was offered for lease for as little as $695 a month and for sale at $32,280. The 1130 used microelectronic circuits employing IBM’s Solid Logic Technology similar to those used by the IBM System/360. It was manufactured in San Jose, Calif., and Greenock, Scotland.

But the entry point and the equivalent to the IBM 1401 was the System 360 model 40., which became the IBm 145 later 148 in the 370 family.

Thomas J. Watson, Jr., said of the System/360 when it as introduced in April 1964 that it was “the most significant product announcement in IBM history.” The word “system” was chosen to signify that the new product line was an interchangeable family of processors and peripherals with programming compatibility between all models. The Model 40 had a maximum memory of 256K, a cycle time of 2.5 microseconds and it transferred 16 bits per cycle. It was withdrawn from marketing in October 1977.

The most powerful was the System 360 model 75.

The IBM System/360 Model 75 was introduced in April 1965, with the first delivery, to the NASA Institute of Space Study, following in January 1966. A powerful processor for integrated data management and processing, the Model 75 had a storage capability of up to 1,048,576 bytes. The machine had a memory cycle time of 750 nanoseconds, and it featured four-way interweaving of memory for faster effective access. (interweaving is a technique in which the computer’s memory is implemented by two or more electronically independent units, any one of which can be accessed while the others are still responding to previous requests.) The Model 75 was withdrawn from marketing in March 1977. A console from one of the machines has been preserved in the IBM Collection of Historical Computers.

The 360 family was superseded by the 370.

System 370 – Early seventies late eighties

Slightly above the entry-level, Introduced in September 1970, the Model 145 was the first IBM computer to have a main memory made entirely on monolithic circuits on silicon chips (previous 370 models used magnetic core main memories). Its system storage ranged from 112K to 512K, twice that available with the IBM System/360 Model 40 . It operated at speeds up to five times the Model 40’s and up to 11 times the Model 30’s. Model 145 users were able to run their System/360 programs with little or no reprogramming. Monthly rental for typical configurations of IBM System/370 Model 145 ranged from about $14,950 (with 112,000 characters of main memory) to $37,330 (512,000 characters), with purchase prices ranging from about $705,775 to $1,783,000. Initial customer shipments will be scheduled for late next summer.The Model 145 was withdrawn from marketing in November of 1971.

The most powerful IBM computer of its time, in the 370 family, the 3090 high-end processor of the IBM 308X computer series incorporated one-million-bit memory chips, Thermal Conduction Modules to provide the shortest average chip-to-chip communication time of any large general purpose computer, and the industry’s most advanced operating systems. Announced in February 1985, the Model 200 (entry-level with two central processors) and Model 400 (with four central processors) IBM 3090 had 64 and 128 megabytes of central storage, respectively. At the time of announcement, the purchase price of a Model 200 was $5 million, and the machine was available in November 1985. The Model 400 was available only as a field upgrade from the Model 200 at a cost of $4.3 million beginning in the second quarter of 1987. A later six-processor IBM 3090 Model 600E, using vector processors, could perform computations up to 14 times faster than the earlier four-processor IBM 3084.

System 390 – early nineties mid nineties

IBM re invented itself in the mid nineties to become a service oriented company, changing completely the way it did business, specially to its workforce. Hardware became a commodity with lots of competition to choose from.The one and only basic reason was that all those machines priced in the $millions of dollars range felt in the $100000 dollars range and it was difficult to make money the way IBM was accustomed to. Technology made and killed IBM. Although it maintained its position in the Fortune 500’s, it is an entirely new company and this is a story yet to be told, but it can be summarized at

1993–present: IBM’s near disaster and rebirth

From the advantage point of 2020: why IBM is vanishing

IBM Mainf Frame Wrap up

Generations of IBM360 -> 370 -> 390

The original 360 family was announced in 1964, and the lower midrange model 40 was the first to ship a year later. The most interesting version was model 67 (first shipped June 1966) which had hardware to support virtual memory. IBM had planned a special operating system for it (TSS/360), which they never managed to get to work well enough to be usable. Within IBM, model 67 was used with a system known as CP-67, which allowed a single 360/67 to simulate multiple machines of various models. This turned out to be very useful for developing operating systems.
In the summer of 1970, IBM announced a family of machines with an enhanced instruction set, called System/370. These machines were all designed with virtual hardware similar to 360/67, and eventually all the operating systems were enhanced to take advantage of it in some way.

When System/360 was successful, other companies started making their machines similar to IBM’s, but not close enough to actually run the same software. In 1970, however, Gene Amdahl (who had been the chief architect for the 360 family) started a company to build a series of machines that were direct clones of the 360-370 architecture, and later Hitachi followed suit. (The first Amdahl machine was shipped in 1975.)

Big, fast disk drives were one of the strengths of IBM. In 1973, the big mainframe disk drive was model 3330-11: 400 MB for $111,600 or $279/MB. By 1980, you could get the 3380: 2.5GB for $87,500 or $35/MB. DRAM prices were dropping, too: In 1979 the price was cut from $75,000/MB to $50,000/MB.

Through the 1970’s and 1980’s, the machines got bigger and faster, and multi-processor systems became common, but the basic architecture did not change. Around 1982, addresses were extended from 24 bits to 31 bits (370-XA), and in 1988 extensions were put in to support multiple address spaces (370-ESA). In 1990, the ES/9000 models came out with fiber-optical I/O channels (ESCON), and IBM began using the name System/390.

In 1999, IBM released a new generation of S/390. A special issue of IBM Systems Journal describes it’s technology.

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