x'22' (34): Marketing the IBM Model 67

posted Dec 13, 2014, 3:35 AM by Jeff Ogden   [ updated Dec 14, 2014, 10:31 PM ]
This is the first of two excerpts from a 37 part oral history interview of Humphrey Watts by Grady Booch for the Computer History Museum. Watts was an executive at IBM where for a time he was responsible for all software development at IBM. Later he was a Fellow at the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon, where he provided the vision for, and early leadership in the development of, the widely used standard for assessing an organization's software development capability, the Capability Maturity Model (CMM). He is the author of several influential books on the software development process and software process improvement. Watts passed away in October 2010.

All 37 parts of the interview are available online, see:  http://www.informit.com/promotions/interview-with-watts-humphrey-137746.

This excerpt talks about events leading to the development of the IBM S/360 Model 67, the first IBM system with support for virtual memory. It doesn't mention MTS, but does briefly mention Bernie Galler and the University of Michigan.

An Interview with Watts Humphrey, Part 6: The IBM 360
March 29, 2010
  • The IBM 360 Announcement
  • IBM Time Sharing
  • Marketing the IBM Model 67

In this transcript of an oral history, Grady Booch interviews SEI Fellow Watts Humphrey. In part 6, Humphrey discusses the IBM 360 announcement, battling GE and MIT for market share, and marketing the IBM Model 67.

This interview was provided courtesy of the Computer History Museum.

 . . .

Humphrey: . . . But in any event we put this together, we put in the proposal. It was a very simple design for the virtual memory, but it was a good one. And we put it in and we won the bid. We got the Lincoln Labs bid, and the marketing guys were going off, and Orville Wright and his team and they were putting out fires with this system. The Model 67 turned out to take the market by storm. I mean, people loved it. And it had multiprocessing -- the 67 was the first multiprocessor of the 360 line.

So we had to have that in place so we could have multiple computers come together with a virtual memory, which is a very attractive system, and they had all kinds of expansion capabilities and a big deal with some of the real-time communication that you needed and everything else. So it was a great system. When we put that in, we won and we were going great guns. The programming guys did extremely well. They were up in this lab in Yorktown Heights and then all hell broke loose. The Multics people and the GE folks had decided to leapfrog the technology, and so they had come up with an expanded virtual memory approach and they sold it to General Motors.

Well, the GE people had come up with a bid, GE and MIT together to put a much more expanded virtual memory into the Multics System, and it actually had a great deal of flexibility. The reason it was attractive to General Motors was, General Motors wanted to use this timesharing system for the graphic design for their automobiles. And they had a big graphic design system, and the marketing people got me out to GM to see what they were doing and why it was interesting. And they were working with the University of Michigan and Bernie Galler and folks out there. And very nice folk. I got to know Bernie quite well and he was pushing this stuff real hard. And he was sort of the intellectual push behind all of this stuff for this expanded virtual memory.

Booch: I have to ask. Were they doing their CAD work on it?

Humphrey: Well, they had big IBM displays. I think it was called the 2250 or something, but it was a big display running off the 360, and they had them on earlier systems but they were a big part of the 360 proposal. And so it they were damn good systems. They were doing amazing things with them way back then. So it was quite something that GM had a lot going on, GM Research -- that's who we were working with. I didn't tell you also the Bell Labs people we worked with Ed David and a bunch of those folks. So I got to know all of those guys. It was quite an interesting bunch of folks. In any event GM was really pushing us hard on this. They had to have this added memory and they argued they couldn't -- literally couldn't -- do without it. It was pretty obvious we were not going to win the GM bid unless we could build something substantially more then what we were doing. And the marketing people were all upset because they concluded that, if GM went with GE and Mulltics, we'd lose Bell Labs; and if we lost GM and Bell Labs, we were going to lose the momentum pretty completely. And so the GM win was a big deal. And so I got together with the programming guys and the architects to figure out how we would do it, and that it would take a hardware change, which we were told was straightforward. But the programming guys went through it and after like a weekend's -- a long weekend's -- worth of study….we were strong on long weekends in those days.

Booch: It sure sounds that way.

Humphrey: But in any event they concluded that it would add about three months to the schedule. Well like a dummy I bought it. And so we put in a proposal. We won the GM bid, and Lincoln Labs was very upset with the three month delay, but we talked them into it and all the other customers -- we had a three month delay for everybody. Everybody finally bought it we got it sold in the market. They’d all do it. And so we got started on that. We had that bid. And so this was in the fall of '65, I think it was.