IBM's 360 and Early 370 Systems

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No new product offering has had greater impact on the computer industry than the IBM System/360. IBM's 360 and Early 370 Systems describes the creation of this remarkable system and the developments it spawned, including its successor, System/370. The authors tell how System/360's widely-copied architecture came into being and how IBM failed in an effort to replace it ten years later with a bold development effort called FS, the Future System. Along the way they detail the development of many computer innovations still in use, among them semiconductor memories, the cache, floppy disks, and Winchester disk files. They conclude by looking at issues involved in managing research and development and striving for product leadership.While numerous anecdotal and fragmentary accounts of System/360 and System/370 development exist, this is the first comprehensive account, a result of research into IBM records, published reports, and interviews with over a hundred participants. Covering the period from about 1960 to 1975, it highlights such important topics as the gamble on hybrid circuits, conception and achievement of a unified product line, memory and storage developments, software support, unique problems at the high end of the line, monolithic integrated circuit developments, and the trend toward terminal-oriented systems.System/360 was developed during the transition from discrete transistors to integrated circuits at the crucial time when the major source of IBM's revenue was changed from punched-card equipment to electronic computer systems. As the authors point out, the key to the system's success was compatibility among its many models. So important was this to customers that System/370 and its successors have remained compatible with System/360. Many companies in fact chose to develop and market their own 360-370 compatible systems. System/360 also spawned an entire industry dedicated to making plug-compatible products for attachment to it.The authors, all affiliated with IBM Research, are coauthors of IBM's Early Computers, a critically acclaimed technical history covering the period before 1960.


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The computer revolution was a time of intense innovation and change that I think makes today's startups seem tame. This book does a good job of covering the excitement from the point of view of the work from IBM. Now to find an equal book on some of the competitors: GE, UNIVAC, RCA, CDC and so on.
Why should you read this book? I think the next few years we will see an equally intense growth of quantum and other computing technologies that are foreign to the way we do things now. Than we shall see a similar period of excitement as companies seek to become the new way of doing things.

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This tome is an extremely detailed and valuable recording of IBM's success with the 360/370, as well as many other projects within the company. I give it a high rating for this reason.
Unfortunately, I found the prose to be maddening. Most topics jump around through time almost randomly, making it very difficult to follow the course of development. There seems to be no reason for this, it's as if the author simply remembered some fact in the midst of typing and suddenly inserted another paragraph to cover it, regardless of the fact that it wasn't directly related to the paragraph above it.
There's huge value here, but you'll have to fight to get it.


Embracing Electronics
A Circuit Technology Gamble
A Unified Product Line
Memories and Control Stores
Strength in Storage Products
HighEnd Computers
Cacheenhanced memory
New Challenges in Storage
In Retrospect
System Introduction Dates 19641977
Top Corporate Officers 19111989
References and Notes
About the Authors 821

Monolithics and New Systems

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