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In Pictures: So you think you know the IBM mainframe? Try our quiz

On the 50th anniversary of the Big Iron, see how well you know this iconic computing workhorse

  • When it was announced 50 years ago on April 7 the IBM System/360 mainframe was immediately popular, receiving more than 1,000 orders in the first month. Development of the product family was so rapid that some of the higher end models announced were never made because better ones replaced them before they could be built. The product line provided a huge range of prices and performance so there was an appropriate size for virtually any business need. To note this anniversary of one of the most significant technology achievements ever, here is a short quiz about this iconic product. Keep track of your score and check at the end to see how well you did.

  • What did the first System/360 mainframes cost? a) $57,000 to $2.6 million b) $63,000 to $3 million c) $133,000 to $5.5 million d) $500,000 to $8.8 million

  • What did the first System/360 mainframes cost? c) $133,000 to $5.5 million

  • How much memory did the 2361 Core Storage unit for System/360 have? a) 900KB b) 1.05MB c) 15.8MB d) 30.05MB

  • How much memory did the 2361 Core Storage unit for System/360 have? b) 1.05MB

  • IBM announced the System/360 in April 1964, but the first one shipped when? a) August 1964 b) November 1964 c) June 1965 d) April 1966

  • IBM announced the System/360 in April 1964, but the first one shipped when? c) June 1965

  • In relation to System/360, Solid Logic Technology was IBM’s name for what? a) A subsidiary that wrote the first mainframe operating system b) The mainframe itself c) The first mainframe application developer’s kit d) Mainframe circuitry packaged in ceramics

  • In relation to System/360, Solid Logic Technology was IBM’s name for what? d) Mainframe circuitry packaged in ceramics

  • What’s the significance of 360 in the product name? a) It’s the number of degrees in a circle representing the ability to run all types of applications b) It followed prototypes named 160 and 260 c) It represents a full revolution, and the line was considered revolutionary d) It was the lucky number of project chief Fred Brooks

  • What’s the significance of 360 in the product name? a) It’s the number of degrees in a circle representing the ability to run all types of applications.

  • Which was an innovation introduced in the System/360? a) Random access memory b) Virtual memory c) Drum memory d) The eight-bit byte

  • Which was an innovation introduced in the System/360? d) The eight-bit byte

  • Who bought the first System/360? a) McDonnell Aircraft b) American Express c) NASA d) NSA

  • Who bought the first System/360? a) McDonnell Aircraft

  • The System/360 product line fixed what problem IBM had with its other eight lines? a) Incompatibility with each other b) Too heavy for most buildings c) Too noisy d) Too hot

  • The System/360 product line fixed what problem IBM had with its other eight lines? a) Incompatibility with each other

  • What did it cost to develop System/360 in 1960s dollars? a) $1.5 million b) $25 million c) $150 million d) $2.5 billion

  • What did it cost to develop System/360 in 1960s dollars? d) $2.5 billion

  • The Jeopardy-playing computer is named for IBM pioneer Tom Watson, who, when the Series/360 was announced, was a) President b) Chairman and CEO c) Chairman emeritus d) dead

  • The Jeopardy-playing computer is named for IBM pioneer Tom Watson, who, when the Series/360 was announced was d) dead

  • How’d you do? 0-2 – Counting on fingers 3-5 – Using an abacus 6-8 – Exploiting parallel computing 9-10 – Pioneering optical computing

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