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IBM/360

 

Announced in 1964, and released in 1965, the System/360 (S/360) was a successful family of IBM mainframe computers that remained in production until 1977.(1) The System/360 marked a change in IBM system development strategy. Rather than maintain production multiple lines of non-intercompatible computers, IBM offered the S/360 as a single series of machines, each model differentiated only by size, performance, and connected peripherals, but all using the same instruction set. This allowed customers the ability to chose an S/360 model that suited their needs, without the concern of outgrowing their computer, and being forced to move to another, non-compatible platform. Although the S/360 was released after the introduction of integrated circuits, IBM opted for a custom hybrid circuit design, incorporating integrated circuits with glass transistors and diodes on a multi-layered circuit board module.(2)(3)

Although IBM originally intended for the S/360 line to utilize a single batch-oriented operating system, the memory limitations of lower-end machines, and the time to develop the full-featured OS, led to the development of multiple operating systems for the S/360 line. Smaller S/360 units, typically those with less than 256KB of memory, used Disk Operating System/360 (DOS/360). The larger models ran Operating System/360 (OS/360), which supported multiprogramming (to reduce the time the CPU had to wait for I/O operations), supported a wide array of memory and CPU capabilities, and supported a multitude of customer applications, making OS/360 one of the largest software projects of its time. The OS/360 project experienced numerous bugs, and overruns in both time and cost. At the time of its announcement, IBM planned to release a time-sharing variant of the S/360's operating system to compete with Multics, but the project experienced setbacks in development, and the project was ultimately replaced with other time-sharing systems in the 1970s.(4)(5)

Despite initial delays in production, and hardware and software reliability issues at launch, the S/360 was successful in commercial, government, military, and academic applications, with special variants of the S/360 entering service with NASA and other agencies. After experiencing difficulties developing its own intercompatible family of computers, the Soviet Union developed functional equivalents of the S/360, called the "Unified System," to take advantage of the existing library of software for the OS/360 platform.(6)(7)(8)

Additional Resources:

  • B. O. Evans, "System/360: A Retrospective View," Annals of the History of Computing 8, no. 2 (April, 1986): Available below, Parts1-4:
lock Part 1 (Login required)
lock Part 2 (Login required)
lock Part 3 (Login required)
lock Part 4 (Login required)

Notes

1 : http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/mainframe/mainframe_FS360.html

2 : B. O. Evans, "System/360: A Retrospective View," Annals of the History of Computing 8, no. 2 (April, 1986), 164-168.

3 : http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/mainframe/mainframe_PR360.html

4 : Emerson W. Pugh, et al., IBM's 360 and Early 370 Systems, Cambridge, MA (The MIT Press, 1991), 593-597.

5 : B. O. Evans, "System/360: A Retrospective View," Annals of the History of Computing 8, no. 2 (April, 1986), 171-173, 176.

6 : B. O. Evans, "System/360: A Retrospective View," Annals of the History of Computing 8, no. 2 (April, 1986), 172-173.

7 : Emerson W. Pugh, et al., IBM's 360 and Early 370 Systems, Cambridge, MA (The MIT Press, 1991), 394, 641.

8 : lock Seymour Goodman, "Soviet Computing and Technology Transfer: An Overview," World Politics 31, no. 4 (July, 1979), 551-552. (Login required)


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