Reporting Tech like it’s a Mainframe

Yesterday the new IBM mainframe was launched, the new Z14 with the byline #trustIBMz. This cutting edge technology launch from such a high profile company as IBM obviously lit up the newswires and led to some amazing coverage.  However, a lot of this coverage felt the need to refer to the historical roots of the mainframe.

The Wall Street Journal was a classic example of yesterday’s coverage with these words capturing the general theme of the reporting:

Mainframes, which date to the 1950s, in recent decades have been overshadowed by networks of smaller computers and, more recently, cloud computing. But their extraordinary reliability, security and ability to move data in and out means they continue to crunch numbers in the back offices of many large organizations.

IBM has continued to update its mainframes over nearly seven decades through successive waves of computer design, and now holds more than 90% of the market, according to analyst Peter Rutten at International Data Corp. 

This led to a few of us railing against this type of reporting and having some fun on Twitter, here are a few examples of the highlights:

  • Blockchain, which has its logical origins from the Byzantine Army of the 7-12th centuries is now reported to have taken over the world
  • Apple Watch with its origins in 15th Century Germany, still tells the time
  • Speech synthesis, its roots dating back to when organisms started making noise, is getting quite good.
  • 4K UHD TV’s with their origins in post WWII 1940’s
  • Designer John Varvatos, who owes his start to Eli Whitney and early civilization of the cotton plant
  • ARM’s latest innovation in chip design – which incoprates elements of M-Theory as observed in the first microseconds of the universe
  • Bitcoin with origins based on the first known currency which was created by King Alyattes in Lydia now part of Turkey in 600BC
  • IoT based on sensor technology which can trace its roots back to the first thermostat invented in 1883
  • Babbage’s difference engine gets an upgrade. Ada Lovelace’s code enhanced with assisted cryptography

The level of lazy reporting by the likes of WSJ often accompanied by a sepia photo of a computer room from the S360 days in the mid 1960’s doesn’t do the platform justice and should be called out for what it is, at best ignorance, and at worst open bias against the mainframe.

When Porsche launches the new 911 the auto press doesn’t lead with the history of the model, which coincidently is the same age as the mainframe. The same applied for Microsoft which has a 30-year+ history with its Windows platform.  So in this my open letter to the technology press, cease and desist.  Report the tech on its merits, focus on the 1000+ patents, yes new innovation, focus on the laser focus on one of the industry’s major issues, namely security.  Don’t feel the need to give us a history lesson…

3 thoughts on “Reporting Tech like it’s a Mainframe

  1. To celebrate the eventual 100 year anniversary of the mainframe, perhaps it would be a good idea to invite the Porche 911 design team. They’ll likely have their new ‘flying autonomous’ version ready by then, and we can ride in it to the z30 launch event.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Our z14 mainframe system is so overloaded in the overnight batch stream that we are constantly searching for ways to reduce its load. Our latest hope is implementing MRO on our application.


    1. Fidelity has part of a solution to address this. Reach out to me and I can educate you on how it works.


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