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Issue No.02 - Summer (1995 vol.17)
pp: 50-54
ABSTRACT
<p>In the middle 1960s IBM responded to pressure from its most prestigious customers to hasten the development and availability of computer time-sharing systems. When MIT and Bell Laboratories chose General Electric computers for their new time-sharing system, IBM management feared that the “prestige luster” of these customers would lead other customers to demand the same capabilities and that there would be a “snow-balling” effect as more customers rejected IBM computers. IBM worked on a time-sharing product and brought it to market by the end of the decade despite greater-than-expected costs. Meanwhile MIT, Bell Laboratories, and GE worked together on a new time-sharing system known as Multics.</p><p>By examining IBM’s role in and response to the development of time-sharing, this article illustrates the nontechnological criteria that even high-technology companies use to decide what products to develop and market.</p>
CITATION
Judy E. O'Neill, "'Prestige Luster' and 'Snow-Balling Effects': IBM's Development of Computer Time-Sharing", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.17, no. 2, pp. 50-54, Summer 1995, doi:10.1109/85.380271
REFERENCES
1. A full history of IPTO for the years 1962 to 1986 can be found in Arthur L. Norberg and Judy E. O'Neill with contributions from Kerry J. Freedman, Transforming Computer Technology: Information Processing for the Pentagon, 1962-1986,Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.
2. “Report of the Long Range Computation Study Group,” Apr. 1961, Collection AC 12, Box 17, Folder:“Project MAC Proposals, Regular, 1963,”institute archives, MIT.
3. “Acquisition of Computer Installation as a Replacement for the Present IBM 7094 Installation,” Nov.23, 1964, Collection AC 12, Box 17, Folder:“Project MAC Proposals, Regular, 1964,”institute archives, MIT.
4. J. Dennis interview, Oct.31, 1989, CBI. (CBI refers to the archives of the Charles Babbage Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota.)
5. F.J. Corbato et al. to R.M. Fano, July8, 1964, Collection AC 12, Box 17, Folder: Project MAC General, 1961-8, institute archives, MIT.
6. J. Dennis interview, Oct.31, 1989, CBI.
7. Letter to Gordon Brown, July9, 1964, Collection AC 12, Box 17, Folder: “Project MAC General 1961-8,” institute archives, MIT. The letter is signed by“Bill”without further identification.
8. R.M. Fano to J.A. Stratton, June29, 1964, Collection AC 134, Box 30, Folder: “Project MAC,” institute archives, MIT.
9. J. Dennis interview, Oct.31, 1989, CBI.
10. R.M. Fano to J.A. Stratton, June29, 1964, Collection AC 134, Box 30, Folder: “Project MAC,” institute archives, MIT.
11. Brooks testimony, trial transcript, USv.IBM,, CCIAA,(CCIAA refers to the Computer and Communications Industry Association Antitrust Records housed in the archives of the Charles Babbage Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota.) p. 22740, CBI.
12. E.W. Pugh, L.R. Johnson, and J.H. Palmer, IBM's 360 and Early 370 Systems.Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 362-363, 1991.
13. J.W. Haanstra et al., “Processor Products-Final Report of SPREAD Task Group, Dec. 28, 1961,” reprinted in IEEE Annals History of Computing 5 (Jan. 1983) pp. 6-26.
14. E.W. Pugh, L.R. Johnson, and J.H. Palmer, IBM's 360 and Early 370 Systems.Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 362-363, 1991.
15. J. Weil testimony, trial transcript, US v.IBM,CCIAA, CBI, pp. 7115-7116.
16. J. Weil testimony, trial transcript, US v.IBM,CCIAA, CBI, p. 7123.
17. A. Watson, “For Distribution,” Sept.18, 1964, CCIAA 1564, CBI.
18. Computer Department Presentation to Executive Office[GE], Apr.20, 1963, CCIAA 15561557, CBI, p. 89. By Apr. 1965, Bell Laboratories was GE’s largest external customer with over 20 GE 600 series computers on order.
19. R. Wright testimony, trial transcript,USv.IBM,CCIAA, CBI, pp. 12936-7.
20. R. Wright testimony,trial transcript,USv.IBM,CCIAA, CBI, pp. pp. 12825-26 and p. 12906.
21. R. Wright testimony, trial transcript,USv.IBM,CCIAA, CBI, p. 12944.
22. F.M. Fisher, J.W. McKie, and R.B. Mancke, IBM and the US Data Processing Industry: An Economic History, Praeger, New York, 1983, p. 166.
23. M.E. Pelaez Valdez, A Gift from Pandora’s Box: The Software Crisis, 1988, PhD dissertation, Univ. of Edinburgh.
24. Honeywell 1972 Market Databook, CCIAA 1554, CBI, p. 58.
25. “Acquisition of Computer Installation as a Replacement for the Present IBM 7094 Installation,” Nov.23, 1964, Collection AC 12, Box 17, Folder:“Project MAC Proposals, Regular, 1964,”institute archives, MIT, p. 11.
26. R.M. Fano to G. Brown, “The MULTICS-645 System as an MIT Computer Utility,” Mar.17, 1966, Collection AC 12, Box 17, Folder:“MAC General 1966-9,”institute archives, MIT.
27. Licklider to Smullin, Dec.19, 1968, Collection AC 12, Box 17, Folder: “Project MAC 3/5,” institute archives, MIT.
28. F.J. Corbato, “Foreword,” in E.I. Organick, The Multics System: An Examination of its Structure,Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. ix-xi.
29. F.J. Corbato, J.H. Saltzer, and C.T. Clingen, “Multics—The First Seven Years,” Proc. AFIPS Spring Joint Computer ConfMontvale, N.J., 1972, 40, pp. 571-583.
30. Pugh et al. (Ref. 12 above) and N. Rassmussen, interview, as quoted in Valdez (Ref. 23 above). IBM offered large time-sharing systems through VM/370 (which grew out of the CP/CMS work at the Cambridge Research Center) and Time-Sharing Option (TSO) on OS/360 and OS/370.
31. A. Perlis testimony, trial transcript, US v.IBM,CCIAA, CBI, p. 1868. In testimony given in 1972, Alan Perlis described IBM’s TSS as a failure.
32. J. Weil testimony, trial transcript, US v.IBM,CCIAA, CBI, p. 7234.
33. J. Weil testimony, trial transcript, US v. IBM, CCIAA, CBI, pp. 7235-7236.
34. J. Weil testimony, trial transcript, US v.IBM,CCIAA, CBI, p. 7236.
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