A year ago, McKinsey Quarterly published a special edition, Management: The next 50 year, to commemorate its 50th anniversary. To illustrate how different the world was 50 years ago, its lead article characterized the 1964 environment with three key events: the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which was the first global telecast via satellite; the last of the baby-boomers were born that year; and IBM announced the new System/360 family of mainframes. I was reminded of that third, distant event by IBM’s recent announcement of LinuxONE, its new Linux-only mainframes.
In 1964 I was a second year college student at the University of Chicago. I was also working part-time at the university’s 2-year old computation center, and still remember attending a presentation on the new System 360 by a visiting IBM executive. I later went on to graduate school in physics at the university, where I made extensive use of S/360 computers for my thesis research. In IBM, which I joined after finishing my studies in 1970, major portions of my 37 year career involved mainframe architecture and strategy.