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<p>No careful empirical research has tested the widely held belief that the cost of switching computer vendors tends to produce technological “lock-in,” meaning that the cost of switching between incompatible vendors is prohibitively expensive. Using several studies by federal agencies into the costs of switching mainframe computer vendors, this article concludes that mainframe computers of the late 1970s possessed many of the features typically associated with lock-in. However, many other factors also attenuated tendencies to lock-in. While lock-in was important for the outcomes of several well-documented instances, it is not clear whether lock-in was important for the outcomes of a wide set of cases.</p>
Shane M. Greenstein, "Lock-in and the Costs of Switching Mainframe Computer Vendors in the US Federal Government in the 1970s", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 17, no. , pp. 58-66, Fall 1995, doi:10.1109/85.397061
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