NASA shut down its last mainframe computer earlier this month, ending an era for the agency, Chief Information Officer Linda Cureton said in a blog post.
In my first stint at NASA, I was at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center as a mainframe systems programmer when it was still cool. That IBM 360-95 was used to solve complex computational problems for space flight. Back then, I comfortably navigated the world of IBM 360 Assembler language and still remember the much-coveted “green card” that had all the pearls of information about machine code. Back then, real systems programmers did hexadecimal arithmetic – today, “there’s an app for it!”
But all things must change. Today, they are the size of a refrigerator but in the old days, they were the size of a Cape Cod. Even though NASA has shut down its last one, there is still a requirement for mainframe capability in many other organizations. The end-user interfaces are clunky and somewhat inflexible, but the need remains for extremely reliable, secure transaction oriented business applications.