How IBM announced System/360 to the world

This is the text of an IBM Data Processing Division press release distributed on 7 April, 1964, System 360 a family of computers build with the then revolutionary concept of a single, unified architecture.


This is the text of an IBM Data Processing Division press release distributed on 7 April, 1964, System 360 a family of computers build with the then revolutionary concept of a single, unified architecture.

A new generation of electronic computing equipment was introduced today by International Business Machines Corporation.

IBM Board Chairman Thomas J. Watson Jr. called the event the most important product announcement in the company's history.

The new equipment is known as the IBM System/360.

It combines microelectronic technology, which makes possible operating speeds measured in billionths of a second, with significant advances in the concepts of computer organization.

At a press conference at the company's Poughkeepsie facilities, Mr. Watson said:

"System/360 represents a sharp departure from concepts of the past in designing and building computers. It is the product of an international effort in IBM's laboratories and plants and is the first time IBM has redesigned the basic internal architecture of its computers in a decade. The result will be more computer productivity at lower cost than ever before. This is the beginning of a new generation - - not only of computers - - but of their application in business, science and government."

More than 100,000 businessmen in 165 American cities today attended meetings at which System/360 was announced.

Single system
System/360 is a single system spanning the performance range of virtually all current IBM computers - - from the widely used 1401 to nearly twice that of the most powerful computer previously built by the company. It was developed to perform information handling jobs encompassing all types of applications.

System/360 includes in its central processors 19 combinations of graduated speed and memory capacity. Incorporated with these are more than 40 types of peripheral equipment which store information and enter it into and retrieve it from the computer. Built-in communications capability makes System/360 available to remote terminals, regardless of distance.

The equipment is supported by programs which enable System/360 to schedule its own activities for non-stop computing that makes most efficient use of system capabilities.

Internal processing power of the largest System/360 configuration is approximately 50 times greater than that of the smallest. The system's machine cycle time - - basic pulse beat of a computer - - ranges from one millionth-of-a-second to only 200 billionths-of-a-second.

System/360 core storage memory capacity ranges from 8,000 characters of information to more than 8,000,000. Information storage devices linked to the system can store additional billions of characters of data and make them available for processing at varying speeds, depending on need.

It is the balancing of these factors - - all available within a single system using one set of programming instructions - - that will make it possible for a user to select a configuration suited to his own requirements for both commercial and scientific computing. With the same type of input/output devices, a user can expand his System/360 to any point in its performance range, without reprogramming.

Computer advances
Some of the most significant advances represented by the new IBM System/360 include:

Solid Logic Technology. Microelectronic circuits -- product of IBM's Solid Logic Technology -- make up the system's basic componentry. System/360 is the first commercially available data processing system whose design is based on the use of microminiaturized computer circuits.

Called logic circuits because they carry and control the electrical impulses which represent information within a computer, these tiny devices operate at speeds ranging from 300 down to six billionths-of-a-second. Transistors and diodes mounted on the circuits are only 28 thousandths-of-an-inch square and are protected by a film of glass 60 millionths-of-an-inch thick.

Memory power. A hierarchy of memories within System/360 makes information in core storage available at varying speeds. Small local store memories operate in as little as 200 billionths-of-a-second. Control memories operate in as little as 250 billionths-of-a-second. Powerful main memories - - containing up to 524,000 characters of information - - range from 2.5 millionths-of-a-second down to one millionth-of-a-second.

A key development provides 8,000,000 characters in bulk core storage - - each character available in eight millionths-of-a-second and each at the direct command of a computer programmer. This is over sixty times more directly addressable characters than were previously available in IBM computers. The computer's historic limitations on memory size are overcome by this development.

Application versatility. The traditional distinction between computers for commercial and scientific use is eliminated in System/360. Users will be able to process both business and scientific problems, or a combination of the two, with equal effectiveness. This versatility is reinforced by the variety of peripheral equipment which is part of the system.

Communications capability. Built into System/360 is the ability to respond to inquiries and messages from remote locations at any time. Hundreds of terminal devices can communicate simultaneously with a system while the computer continues to process the basic job on which it is working.

System/360 monthly rentals will range from $2,700 for a basic configuration to $115,000 for a typical large multisystem configuration. Comparable purchase prices range from $133,000 to $5,500,000.

Deliveries of the small configurations of System/360 are scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 1965. Deliveries of the largest configurations are scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 1966.

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