Superior technology 
combined with 
talented people 
account for the excellence of the mainframe ecosystem
By Reg Harbeck

Introduction and Approach

Mainframe: Doing IT Right

“We’ve got all these great new capabilities coming out on the z/OS platform, you know, and this includes the whole stack all the way up, all the way down to the hardware and these capabilities are so wonderful and I really want people to start using a lot of these capabilities and just showcase the awesomeness of this platform.” 

Those words, from 
, z/OS Installation, Upgrade, and Management at IBM, give a hint of the success of the IBM mainframe’s journey, which had its public début on April 7, 1964, and has continued to lead the world of business IT with great innovators and innovations ever since.

That original announcement was the culmination of every different thread of theory, discovery, innovation and automation in the history of computing up to that moment. Twenty-eight years previously, in 1936, great theoreticians of computing Alonzo Church and Alan Turing separately arrived at the same conclusion, now known as the Church-Turing Thesis. The duo stated that any generic computer, which could be modeled by Alan Turing’s theoretical Turing Machine, could perform any act of computation. But the journey to creating a true general-purpose computer was to pass through many special-purpose devices on the way.

Hence the “360” in the IBM announcement of the System/360 referred to 360 degrees of functionality and applicability. This nexus and milestone of innovation was subsequently employed for purposes ranging from the Apollo moon missions to becoming the system of record for the business world.

Now, over half a century later, the platform has been the launchpad of many of the definitive business-enabling IT innovations in history, often predating similar technologies on other platforms by decades. But it’s also the place where these innovations often have their greatest manifestation and value. And it’s the platform where investment and patents, and culture and focus have manifested a culture of irrepressible excellence, and a worthiness to continue to be the touchstone for doing IT right.

In this interactive content experience and video series, the lid will come off of one of computing’s biggest open secrets: the platform that got it right the first time and has remained at the forefront of innovation, computing, business and excellence since its inception, and will continue to do so for generations to come.