From History of Computing
Memories that Shaped an Industry
Decisions Leading to IBM System/360
This book provides a rare and candid glimpse into the innovations as well as the immense risks and imprecisions sometimes involved in technical decision making.
Development of ferrite core memory technology during the 1950s was probably the most important innovation that made stored-program computers a commercial reality. IBM's leadership in this development made possible the introduction in 1964 of the IBM System/360, which was so widely copied that it became a standard for electronic stored-program computers that have become so much a part of American life. This book provides a rare and candid glimpse into the innovations as well as the immense risks and imprecisions sometimes involved in technical decision making. It identifies the basic characteristics of technology management that the author believes accounted for IBM's success during this period, and gives a balanced view of the contributions by talented scientists and engineers both within and outside the company. The book chronicles a twenty-five-year period during which IBM evolved from the position of leading supplier of electromechanical punched-card equipment to dominance in the field of electronic computers. It describes IBM's response to the postwar challenge of electronics, its highly successful cooperative effort with MIT on an automated air defense system, the introduction of commercial ferrite core memories, developments and decisions leading to System/360, and the manufacturing problems posed by System/360's success.
An internationally recognized leader in magnetics and computer memory technologies, Emerson W. Pugh is a member of the research staff at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights and author of the widely used text, Principles of Electricity and Magnetism. This book is included in The MIT Press Series in the History of Computing, edited by I. Bernard Cohen and William Asprey.