Another giant of the computing industry just died, Gene Amdahl, the architect of IBM's System/360, the most successful mainframe in history, passed away at 92. In looking at his singular accomplishments, the one thing that stands out is the fact his code is still being used after 50 years, something simply unheard of in the age of the digital computer.
The system was announced at IBM’s annual shareholders meeting on April 7, 1964, in Endicott, N.Y., a village near Binghamton where the company had opened a facility early in the 20th century.
At the meeting, Thomas J. Watson Jr., then chairman and chief executive, singled out Dr. Amdahl as the “father” of the new computer. “I remember it very clearly,” Marian Amdahl said in an interview. “Gene was so proud of that.”
Michael J. Flynn, a computer scientist at Stanford University and former colleague of Dr. Amdahl’s at IBM, said the 360 series “set the design philosophy for computers for the next 50 years, and to this day it’s still out there, which is incredible.”
Dr. Amdahl is remembered at IBM as an intellectual leader who could get different strong-minded groups to reach agreement on technical issues.
“By sheer intellectual force, plus some argument and banging on the table, he maintained architectural consistency across six engineering teams,” said Frederick P. Brooks Jr., a computer scientist who was the project manager of the System/360 and is now at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Had to show another System/360, this one @ NASA, used to crunch data for Apollo missions.