Image Credit: IBM
In the early 1960s, IBM chairman Thomas Watkins bet the company on a new computer family, named IBM System/360. The Computer History Museum tells that in 1961, IBM had 2/3 of the American market. Its revenue was $2.5B a year. Yet, the IBM 360 cost twice that to develop. Aside from the expected performance improvements, the big change was the scalability and extensibility of the new computer families. There were computers and peripherals of all sizes and and the same software would run on any of them!
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages the west had over the Soviet bloc during the cold war was the IBM 360. NASA, the Department of Defense, and the many U.S. contractors enjoyed a tremendous computing advantage over their Soviet counterparts. The Soviet defense and space programs had to endure slow, unreliable, vacuum tube computers until they could reverse-engineer the IBM computers.
It has been noted in many business studies that rarely will a company introduce a new product that threatens a cash-cow product line. Although the personal computer had been available for almost 10 years, in 1981, IBM introduced the IBM PC. The company bet big again, with a huge advertising campaign. It is safe to say, that the IBM PC cannibalized the mainframe and mini-computer markets.
IBM no longer manufactures the PC, having sold the product line to Lenovo in 2005. Today it focuses on business software, consulting, and large-scale computer systems.
IBM Bets $1B on New Mainframe in Shrinking Market tells that IBM took 4 years to develop the new family of computers shown in the photograph. It is a bet because revenue from the compute family the EC12 replaces declined 17 percent in the last year. The new computer has 50 percent more capacity and was designed to operate without elevated floors, important to cloud computing centers that operate in geographically stable locations (such as underground). It has higher clock speeds and greater memory capacity than the previous generation.
The problem is - can mainframe computers compete with distributed blade servers, popular in most data centers?
Mmm. IBM seems to have high corporate IQ - they don't make mistakes like others.