What are the prospects for IBM mainframe

The ten biggest IT errors and mispredictions

Misconception 3: the mainframe

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." Thomas Watson, IBM chairman, 1943

He was one of the richest men of his time and founded the global corporation IBM. Thomas Watson is said to have said this sentence in 1943, a few decades before the IBM PC flooded the world market in millions of versions.

How the misjudgment came about is indicated by “Der Spiegel” in its issue of May 26, 1965 in the article “Electron Robots in Germany”: “... IBM boss Thomas Watson initially did not want to know anything about new devices. When, in the early 1950s, the first computational monsters for commercial use appeared, which filled entire suites with their thousands of tubes and developed unbearable heat, Watson estimated the needs of the US economy at a maximum of five ... "

No wonder, then, that Watson calculated the consumption so low, in view of the huge devices with high space and power consumption. Watson could not foresee today's development because the basic building block, the transistor, was not invented until 1947 by American scientists at Bell Laboratories.

Until then, computers could only be built with electromechanical relays or electron tubes. The importance of this factor becomes clear if one believes the anecdote that in Philadelphia the lights flickered every time the tube-based ENIAC computer was switched on.