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.

Of course NASA was just one of the latest high profile mainframe decommissionings in recent years. In 2009 The U.S. House of Representatives took its last mainframe offline. At the time Network World wrote: "The last mainframe supposedly enjoyed "quasi-celebrity status" within the House data center, having spent 12 years keeping the House's inventory control records and financial management data, among other tasks. But it was time for a change, with the House spending $30,000 a year to power the mainframe and another $700,000 each year for maintenance and support." Pictured here is the power switch to mainframe computer that had first been installed in 1996.

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