by Anura Guruge
>> Malaysia flight 370: My Thoughts
>> — Mar. 10, 2014.
>> Asiana 777 crash II —
>> July 8, 2013.
>> Pilot error & ‘Korean Air 007’ — July 8, 2013.
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Yes, the one known adult American on the bewilderingly missing flight HM370 worked for IBM. As an ex-IBMer I feel bad. It is possible that we crossed paths. But, for IBM, while this is indeed a loss, this is not, alas, the main ‘issue’ with the phrase ‘370’ getting bandied about, with abandon, by the news media.
Prior to this unfortunate and as yet inexplicable disaster, the term ‘370’ stood for one and one thing only: IBM’s iconic, epoch-setting System/370 mainframe family (S/370), introduced in June 1970, which pioneered (with a hardware feature known as ‘Dynamic Address Translation’ (DAT)) groundbreaking ‘Virtual Storage’ (VS) (something we now take for granted on PCs). S/370 went onto become, indubitably, the best known mainframe family ever — the term ‘S/370’ becoming, like ‘Hoover’ or ‘Biro’, a generic term to refer to IBM mainframe computing. The S/370 is special. The S/370 family responsible for making IBM mainframes (including all of the clones) the mainstay of 20th century mission-critical computing. The S/370 was the follow-on to IBM’s S/360 — the ‘360’, referring to the number of degrees in a circle, used to denote the all-round, full-spectrum capabilities of that family of history-changing machines.
A smaller (to me) S/370 Model 145. Click to ENLARGE to see it in its full glory. Those are the IBM Winchester 3030 disks — with the twist tops, both in their curved front drives and in the moving cart. A mechanical card reader/punch in the foreground.
The S/360 was introduced on April 7, 1964.
Get it? Next month is the 50th anniversary of IBM mainframes — and the S/370 is still the ‘name’ most associated with that family though we went onto have: 303x, 43xx, 308x, 4381, 3090, 937x, ES/3090, ES/4381 and now the zSeries. (I, during my 30 years as Mr. SNA, IBM big-iron guru, did some work on all of these, including some old 360s, though when I joined IBM, in 1974, 370s were the mainline computers at IBM).
IBM, quite rightly, has gala plans for this golden jubilee.
Now we have this unrelated ‘370’ in the news.
Yes, minor in the scheme of things compared to the loss of life and the loss of a wonderful plane. But, for me, having spent half of my life working with 370s, it is jarring to hear 370 mentioned in a ‘disaster’ context like this (though to be fair, some of the work I did had to do with disaster recovery plans for S/370 data centers (where the criteria we would most often cite was: ‘what would happen if a 747 landed on your data center’)).
This in 1975 – 1976 could have been me, sans the glasses and a much better tan. I used to spend many a Sunday morning (on double time) seated at a 168 console driving it — with glee. The two large flat screens on the left were microfiche readers so we could read operating system listings, on microfiche, while we debugged the system. Those were the days. The 168 had the most awesome HUM when you IPLed off an 3030 Winchester (yes, named after the gun).