Sunday, 9 August 2009

How old is old?

Picking up on my blog of a couple of weeks ago about COBOL reaching 50 this year, I thought it might be interesting to see just how old some of the technology we know and love actually is.

For example, CICS – the Customer Information Control System – has been around since 1969. Although we tend to associate CICS with IBM Hursley these days, it was originally developed at Des Planes in the USA and was called PU-CICS, with the PU bit standing for Public Utility. In the early 1970s, development was at Palo Alto, but moved to Hursley in 1974.

IMS – Information Management System – is even older, having first appeared in 1968. IMS was developed for the space race and contributed to the success of the Apollo program. It’s said, but no-one knows outside of IBM, that IMS is IBM's highest revenue software product. If you’re not already aware, I organize the Virtual IMS Connection user group at It’s free to join and you get six free Webinars a year and six free user group newsletters. But I digress.

Batch processing goes right back to the very early days of computing in the 1950s.

TSO, or Time Sharing Option, first appeared in the early 1960s. Originally, and there’s a clue in its name, it was an optional extra on OS/MVT (Operating System/ Multiprogramming with a Variable number of Tasks), a precursor to MVS. TSO became a standard feature with the release of MVS in 1974. ISPF (Interactive System Productivity Facility), which is associated with TSO, didn’t appear until the 1980s.

DB2 – database 2 – first appeared in 1983. DB2 is a relational database, and as well as on mainframes, turns up on PCs and other IBM platforms. It competes with Oracle and Microsoft’s SQL Server products on these other platforms. Oracle appeared in 1979.

Mainframes themselves were developed during the 1950s.

The World Wide Web is meant to have come into existence in 1991 – thanks to the work of Tim Berners Lee.

IBM came into existence in 1924, when a company called CTR changed its name to IBM. It had been trading as IBM in Canada since 1917.

Microsoft was founded in 1978 – but enough about them.

Citrix was founded in 1989 by Ed Iacobucci and others who’d worked on the ill-fated OS/2 project at IBM.

COBOL’s 50. Java was first released by Sun Microsystems in 1995. It was based on the work of James Gosling. The language was initially called Oak. The international standard for C++ came in 1998.

It’s interesting looking back and realizing just what a significant effect these golden oldie technologies have had, and how they will continue to thrive into the foreseeable future.

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