How to really bury a mainframe

Some users have gone to great lengths to dispose of their mainframe but few have gone this far. On November 21, 2007, the University of Manitoba said goodbye to its beloved 47-year-old IBM 650 mainframe Betelgeuse by holding a New Orleans style jazz funeral.

According to the Web site devoted to the funeral:"The IBM 650 was installed in the year 1960 and went through many upgrades and changes to the final hardware of an Amdahl Millennium 1015. In its many forms the mainframe has supported the Student Records systems, Payroll, Human Resources, Finance, Research, student labs, etc. The mainframe was predeceased by the Huron Object Star database, telephone registration, punch cards, card readers, DT80 terminals connected by the pink wire, and Mantes, the beloved file management system. It leaves behind some 25 servers that are now needed to run these systems and will be lovingly remembered by users from across campus."

In case you were wondering what an IBM 650's specifications were, according to this Columbia University site, the CPU was 5ft by 3ft by 6ft and weighed 1,966 lbs, and rented for $3200 per month. The power unit was 5x3x6 and weighed 2,972 pounds. The card reader/punch weighed 1,295 pounds and rented for $550/month. The memory was a rotating magnetic drum with 2000 word (10 digits and sign) capacity and random access time of 2.496 ms. For an additional $1,500/month you could add magnetic core memory of 60 words with access time of .096ms. Big Blue sold some 2,000 of the mainframes making it one of the first successfully mass-produced computers.

Here is the University of Manitoba's touching eulogy to their mainframe:

For forty-seven years you've served us well, you cast us in yourgreen spell. You processed transactions without complaint, we've askedthe Pope to make you a saint.

The users you were always able to please, with a little training theycould enter with ease, all the data they needed in 2 or 3 screensinstead of the 57 in VIP. And getting data was easy in IMS, there were six hundred reports inthe RS. And Finance was easy with FRGLA, in the time when the mainframe held sway. And the programmers they had all the tools they need, Easytrieveand COBOL made programming a breeze. And Mantes were there tomanage the files, and to help with debugging if it wouldn't compile.

Now gone are the punch cards and card readers of yore, andmainframe computers that used up the whole floor. With tape drivecontrollers and large stacks of tapes, that kept operators scramblingall over the place.

Farewell IMS, we'll remember you well. After forty-seven years,there are many stories to tell. Like when Tel Reg nearly shut downMTS, and when the Y2K bug put us under duress. You helped us achieve our academic objectives, and gave our adminprocesses a proper perspective.

But now we must lay you under theflora, because we have to go deal with this bloody Aurora. So we commit your parts to be recycled.Earth to EarthAshes to AshesDust to DustTo the god of computers, please bless it and keep itAnd give it grace and peaceBut please do not resurrect it.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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