Archive for Mainframe Marketing

ABENDing Mainframe Myths

Photo of 1960s mainframe and staff

“Yep. Next year’s model comes in almost half the space as this one.”

Great article debunks mainframe myths

So I’m standing up and cheering over Gabe Goldberg’s terrific article over at Destination Z entitled “The Truth Will Set You Free: Injecting some accuracy about mainframes out there”.  Everybody needs to read this — especially all the past and future detractors of our beloved Big Iron.

Getting goofy information or being a victim of FUD (aka Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) about mainframes is a common occurrence.  Hearing nonsense in sales pitches is to be expected — nobody should really expect a vendor to entirely overcome its conflict of interest when handing out IT or systems advice.

But far beyond that, for a lot of reasons, the overall profile of mainframes in IT are kind of low, and understanding of their role is limited.  They’re not front and center in the IT discussion — and with distance has always come distortion.  As Gabe puts it:

“The oldest—astonishingly long-lived—myths claim “the mainframe is dead/dying/doomed.” It’s tempting to answer this by pointing to Stewart Alsop’s 1991 assertion that the last mainframe would be uninstalled within five years, which led to his eating his words. And noting that while other technologies have come and gone, the mainframe simply improves. Since Alsop’s bad bet, we’ve seen more than a few major processor and OS generations, and we’re coming up on the 50th birthday of what’s still a compatible computing architecture.”

He goes on to demolish two dozen or so of the most persistent myths about mainframes.

Seriously, go read this.  It’s great.

Ars Technica: How Mad Men sold computers in the 1960s and 1970s

DEC EAI 640 Ad Image from 1967

The DEC EAI 640: FORTRAN in the sunshine

Over at Ars Technica there’s a timely reflection on the marketing history of mainframes between the Kennedy and Carter administrations.  There’s quite a bit of fun learning about how the classic business marketing techniques of the era worked. The industry produced lots of print ads with art direction portraying a future where data entry clerks lounged and let the hardware do all the work.  Sometimes even outside, such as in the above photo  – presumably because stacks of punch-cards were somehow impervious to 1960s wind and weather?

For the full experience of the DEC EAI640 marketing, take a peek at a PDF of the full EAI640 brochure.

Most of the images in the Ars piece come from the truly awesome Computer History Museum of Mountain View, CA, the one place in Silicon Valley where the technologies and problem-solving of yesteryear aren’t forgotten by reflex.