In pictures: The (mostly) cool history of the IBM mainframe

IBM's iconic mainframe turns 50: In its history the IBM mainframe has been hailed and vilified. It has been born, reborn (many times) and pronounced dead. And yet the Big Iron remains a key computing resource for many large companies and will do so for many years. Here we take a look at the mainframe’s long history, from its use with the US space program to its prominence inside large business datacentres. Take a look.

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In 2012 NASA unplugged its last mainframe. Then CIO Linda Cureton wrote: This month marks the end of an era in NASA computing. Marshall Space Flight Center powered down NASA's last mainframe, the IBM Z9 Mainframe. For my millennial readers, I suppose that I should define what a mainframe is. Well, that's easier said than done, but here goes -- It's a big computer that is known for being reliable, highly available, secure, and powerful. They are best suited for applications that are more transaction oriented and require a lot of input/output - that is, writing or reading from data storage devices.

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In pictures: The (mostly) cool history of the IBM mainframe

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