O Primeiro Sucesso da IBM na Computação ComercialO 1401, lançado em 1959, foi o primeiro grande sucesso comercial da IBM no segmento de computação comercial, o primeiro do mercado a ultrapassar a casa de dez mil unidades vendidas.
Sua aceitação foi tão grande, que motivou a IBM a investir nessa indústria, até então ainda duvidosa quanto ao tamanho desse mercado e sua capacidade de consumir produto tão sofisticado.
A grande deficiencia do 1401 era a falta de compatibilidade entre os modelos e cada Upgrade representava uma enorme dor de cabeça para o cliente . Mas esse foi um grande aprendizado.
Quando a IBM começou a planejar o S/360, a questão de compatibilidade foi um ponto muito importante no seu desenho de arquitetura e foi um elemento que a IBM soube explorar como elemento de marketing.
O S/360 garantia compatibilidade entre todos os seus modelos, por toda a vida, assim era o compromisso da IBM . E isso realmente veio a se verificar e é verdade até hoje. Programas escritos para um S/360 continuam rodando nos atuais System z .
Mas esse compromisso ainda não garantiu o sucesso inicial do S/360. O mercado do 1401 era tão grande e apaixonado, que travava a entrada do S/360. Esse problemas somente foi resolvido quando em 1967 a IBM disponibilizou um emulador de 1401 dentro do S/360. Isso permitiu que os clientes migrassem com facilidade dos seus 1401's para o novo S/360 e com isso foi possível deslanchar as vendas da nova família.
Estava aberto o caminho do sucesso do S/360 e seus sucessores e também estava criado o conceito de VIRTUALIZAÇÃO .
Veja abaixo relato da IBM e da indústria, de modo geral, sobre o impacto da 1401.
While the IBM® 1401 Data Processing System wasn't a great leap in power or speed,
that was never the point. “It was a utilitarian device, but one that users had an irrational affection for,”
wrote Paul E. Ceruzzi in his book, A History of Modern Computing.
There were several keys to the popularity of the 1401 system. It was one of the first computers to run
completely on transistors—not vacuum tubes—and that made it smaller and more durable. It rented for
US$2500 per month, and was touted as the first affordable general-purpose computer. It was also the
easiest machine to program at the time. The system’s software, wrote Dag Spicer, senior curator at the
Computer History Museum, “was a big improvement in usability.”
This more accessible computer unleashed pent-up demand for data processing. IBM was shocked to
receive 5200 orders for the 1401 computer in just the first five weeks after introducing it—more than was
predicted for the entire life of the machine. Soon, business functions at companies that had been immune
to automation were taken over by computers. By the mid-1960s, more than 10,000 1401 systems were
installed, making it by far the best-selling computer to date.
More importantly, it marked a new generation of computing architecture, causing business executives
and government officials to think differently about computing. A computer didn’t have to be a monolithic
machine for the elite. It could fit comfortably in a medium-size company or lab. In the world’s top
corporations, different departments could have their own computers.
A computer could even wind up operating on an army truck in the middle of a forest. “There was not a
very good grasp or visualization of the potential impact of computers—certainly as we know them today—until the 1401 came along,” said Chuck Branscomb, who led the 1401 design team. The 1401 system made
enterprises of all sizes believe a computer was useful, and even essential.
By the late 1950s, computers had experienced tremendous changes.
Clients drove a desire for speed. Vacuum-tube electronics replaced the electromechanical mechanisms of the tabulating machines that dominated information processing in the first half of the century.
First came the experimental ENIAC, then Remington Rand’s Univac and the IBM 701, all
built on electronics. Magnetic tape and then the first disk drives changed ideas about the accessibility of
information. Grace Hopper’s compiler and John Backus’s FORTRAN programming language gave
computer experts new ways to instruct machines to do ever more clever and complex tasks. Systems that arose out of those coalescing developments were a monumental leap in computing capabilities.
Still, the machines touched few lives directly.
Installed and working computers numbered barely more than 1000. The world, in fact, was ready for a
more accessible computer.
The first glimpse of that next generation of computing turned up in an unexpected place: France.
“In the mid-1950s, IBM got a wake-up call,” said Branscomb, who ran one of IBM’s lines of accounting
machines at the time. French computer upstart Machines Bull came out with its Gamma computers,
small and fast compared to goliaths like the IBM 700 series. “It was a competitive threat,” Branscomb
recalled. Bull made IBM and others realize that entities with smaller budgets wanted computers. IBM
scrambled together resources to try to make a competing machine. “It was 1957 and IBM had no new
machine in development,” Branscomb said. “It was a real problem.”
During June and July 1957, IBM engineers and planners gathered in Germany to propose several
accounting machine designs. The anticipated product of this seven-week conference was known thereafter as the Worldwide Accounting Machine (WWAM), although no particular design was decided upon.
In September 1957, Branscomb was assigned to run the WWAM project. In March 1958, after Thomas
Watson, Jr. expressed dissatisfaction with the WWAM project in Europe, the Endicott proposal for a storedprogram WWAM was given formal approval as the company's approach to meeting the need for an
electronic accounting machine.
The newly assigned project culminated in the announcement of the 1401 Data Processing System (although, for a time it carried the acronym SPACE).
The IBM 1401 Data Processing System— comprising a variety of card and tape models with a
range of core memory sizes, and configured for standalone use and peripheral service for larger computers—
was announced in October 1959.
Branscomb’s group set a target rental cost of US$2500 per month, well below a 700 series machine,
and hit it. They also decided the computer had to be simple to operate. “We knew it was time for a dramatic
change, a discontinuity,” Branscomb added. And indeed it was. The 1401 system extended computing to
a new level of organization and user, driving information technology deeper into everyday life.
Historians and technical experts have made countless sweeping statements about the dawn of the digital age, but one could easily claim that it began in Endicott, NY, in 1959, when a team of IBM engineers finally solved a problem that had vexed the world for years. By providing thousands of businesses with the world’s first electronic, stored program computer that could replace punched card information processing systems, the IBM ® 1401 Data Processing System changed business—and industry— forever.
Changing how the world processes information In the 1950s, it was unimaginable that a single
machine could perform many functions that businesses today take for granted—calculations used in accounting, statistical tabulation used in financial projections and risk management, inventory control, bookkeeping and reporting.
The 1401 Data Processing System achieved them electronically in one machine. With the addition
of the IBM 1403 printer to aid in internal and customer record-keeping, the increase in productivity and
resulting cost savings to companies and governments were great.
Sizing the market The 1401 system provided IBM and the world with the first realistic glimpse
of the size and importance of the emerging computer industry. This revelation served as a wake-up call for executives at IBM and across the industry to scale up computer production and develop technologies for a
future defined by computing.
The Endicott team that developed the 1401 system didn't just develop a new technology; they shifted a technical paradigm. The capabilities of the 1401 machine transformed a global culture of work that had been dedicated to the previous punched card data processing, by introducing the first single, sophisticated and relatively affordable computer system.
The IBM 1401 system was introduced to provide large-scale system features to small business computer
users who needed more system flexibility to solve their smaller, but unique problems. The 1401 computer
brought to these industries a machine with an array of benefits: high-speed card reading and punching; highspeed printing; use of magnetic tape for input, output and extra storage; stored program of instructions;
arithmetic and logical ability.
The chief architect of the 1401 computer, Fran Underwood, knew his biggest challenge was
overcoming the obstacle of the plugboard, a spaghettilike array of cords and plugs that tell a machine what to
do—move this information here, perform this action on that output and so forth. These control panels, or
plugboards as they were commonly known, were nightmarishly constructed Gordian knots of complexity
and confusion. They were slow, time-consuming, and above all, expensive.
Underwood recognized he could strip out the cumbersome plugboard control panel and replace it
with a simplified stored-program machine, which would allow for rapid application development. But in
order to make his case, Underwood had to prove stored programming could be run inexpensively and
At this stage, stored programming was prohibitively expensive because the instructions it
employed required a lot of memory, and resulted in a lot of waste. This was because the commands to the
machine comprised fixed word lengths and fixed instruction lengths. That is to say, regardless of
whether a given instruction to the machine was three characters long or eight characters long, the space given
to each instruction was the same. And whatever space was not used by the instruction was simply lost,
completely devoid of information, never to be seen again. This inherent waste required designers and
engineers to over-provision on memory, which meant a significant increase in production cost.
Underwood’s approach eliminated this unnecessary waste and cost by using concepts called
variable word length and variable instruction length. In theory, these tactics sent a continuous and solid block
of instructions to the machine, without all the blank spaces of the fixed method.
The only problem was the machines didn’t know where one command stopped
and another began, so Underwood incorporated what he called a “word mark” to flag the end of a particular
instruction. The innovative word mark, combined with the variable word length and variable instruction length, allowed Underwood to pack an immense amount of information into a fraction of the space that otherwise would have been required using the fixed word length approach. All told, Underwood’s methodologies required 40 percent less core memory than the next best thing IBM had going at the time.
And that directly translated into cost savings for the consumer. Underwood also used alphabetic characters as opposed to the established binary method. “A” for add, “S” for subtract, “M” for move and so on. Of particular note was the “E” for edit function. This edit function, and the other intuitive alphabetic characters, greatly increased the 1401 system’s usability from the customer’s standpoint, and made the 1401 computer
vastly superior to other accounting machines.
Less expensive and easier to use? It’s no wonder the 1401 system was such a groundbreaking achievement.
The IBM 1401 Data Processing System—and its printer peripheral, the IBM 1403—could easily be
considered the computer heard round the world. By today’s standards, this machine was cumbersome but the 1401 system was the first computer to travel the world solving data processing problems. While the 1400 series was first released in 1959, it continued to be a popular workhorse up into the 1970s, and remains a culturally inspirational machine to this day.
Social impacts of the 1401 The IBM 1401 system made its way into the collective consciousness of technicians, business people and ordinary citizens around the world. It quickly moved from an idea in a laboratory in upstate New York, to a global icon of productivity and the untapped
possibilities of technology.