back to article Big Blue's big iron daddy Gene Amdahl dies aged 92

IBM's mainframe systems' trailblazer, Gene Amdahl, has died at the age of 92. His wife Marian said he had passed away on Tuesday, after suffering from pneumonia. Amdahl was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease five years ago, she said. Amdahl was born in Flandreau, South Dakota in 1922. He joined IBM in 1952, immediately after …

  1. QuiteEvilGraham

    L R1,=A(C'RIP ')

  2. Ian Rogers

    Single thread...

    ...for 92 years and now shuffles off to the parallel plane.

  3. The Islander

    Why ..?

    .. do the good ones die so young?

    His company's products ensured that as a youngster working in Data Processing (as it was then), I became far more clued in about the harsh realities and interesting dynamics of commercial life in the real world. The impact of a real pioneer felt several orders of magnitude away from & below his level.

    El Reg .. do we need a solemn obit icon?

    1. fruitoftheloon

      @The Islander Re: Why ..?


      I'm with you on the new icon suggestion.

      May I raise a toast?



  4. Wiltshire

    So, farewell Gene, off to join the Great Architect of the Universe.

    May he compile in peace.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From all of his internal processes operating in parallel....

    ..they now drop to a single threaded state of 'Off'.

  6. Paul Slater

    Ahh yes... I remember when we replaced our 3081-era IBM mainframe that took up about 100 square feet, with a phone box sized Amdahl, which all us PFYs and BOFHs afectionately referred to as the Amstrad

  7. Brian Allan 1

    A person that had an impact on a whole industry! RIP

  8. fluffybunnyuk

    its ironic i posted about an Amdahl the other day. RIP Gene.

    Back in the mists of time before micros*** became the evil enemy , IBM was the big baddie in the room, mucho kudos to Gene(despite being an ex-ibm man) for going into business competing with them after what IBM had done to companies like CDC.

  9. JulieM


    I didn't even know he was still around. R.I.P.

    Can you imagine somebody pulling that stunt in today's climate? I can almost hear the Counsel for the Defence now: The question depends upon whether the knowledge in question was learned in the course of my Client's employment, or merely a conclusion which could have been established from premises already known to my Client before such employment began. For in the latter case, the original Claim would be null and void, since my Client would have known it even without the benefit of their employment.

  10. oldsteel

    End of an era

    What a sad day - Gene Amdahl RIP - we used to call him the Godfather. Those were the days, when men were men, computers occupied rooms, and young upstart Amdahl beat Big Blue at its own game. Did you know Amdahl were the first to market with virtual machines back in the early 80s with their Multiple Domain Facility? The greatest company I ever worked for, with the best people, but alas was never the same after Gene sold out. If he had stayed - who knows - it might have been up there with Apple today.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: End of an era

      Amdahl were the first to market with virtual machines back in the early 80s

      Some part of that claim is wrong, because the first release of IBM's VM was 1972.

  11. circuitguy


    I had the pleasure of working with Gene designing the ics and the caching/branching; etc, on his V6. Crazy and tough times.... with IBM declaring war on anyone that help Gene

  12. circuitguy

    Gene was more noted about pushing uniform wiring lengths between boards in his early work on the 709s and 360s. Of course, putting micro coding on the cpu improved upgrades at a small speed loss ...

  13. Gene Cash Silver badge

    IBM spent 50% of annual revenue on S/360

    "IBM spent $5 billion over four years on the 360 system at a time when it had $2.5 billion in annual revenue" according to Bloomberg

    A company sure as hell can't do that today. The shareholders would sue it out of existence.

    One of my first college courses was 360/370 assembler and I still have the books.

  14. circuitguy

    The most of cost of s 360 series was all the new ics the IBM MADE in house and stop using TI for some ics when TI started building supercomputers. Plus water cooled added cost but sorting the interconnecting duel processors and core memory..... io subsystems cause some problems with bus delays....etc...

    For the V6, Gene created a different approach to ic design by creating one master chip that had many subsystems on it..... lower cost of fab by 100% at worst..... 2000% by best analysis.. so core of processor was 100 similar ics. ..just wired different externally. ..

  15. DaveB

    The Swimming pool

    I remember visiting the head of Operations at General Accident in the days when we were pushing Mini computers to replace mainframes. After a good pitch as to how good these new mid range machines were the Ops Manager said, "you may be right but we will not be getting rid of the Amhdal " asking why the Ops manager looked into the distance and said "because it heats the swimming pool".

    1. circuitguy

      Re: The Swimming pool

      "Heats the swimming pool", that's interesting. Amhdal computers were air cooled vs IBM being water cooled. Mini computers were a great advancement for small corps. IBM tried to pretend that minis were not "real" business computers..... then ......

  16. Jeffrey Nonken

    My college courses were done on an IBM 360/50 running OS and HASP. Ah, those were the days.

    1. David Beck

      No they weren't

      HASP queue fails with a few hundred student jobs waiting. Nothing like checking the listings taped to the inside of the computer room floor to ceiling windows showing the jobs completed and failed.

      Was HASP talking to another machine? Mine was talking to the model 75 at TUCC.

  17. circuitguy


    Gene's V6 forced IBM into released the 370 line sooner than planned, good for customers, a loss of extra income on old 360 hardware. while smart i/o controllers was the "thing" , in depth analysis of memory bus access "tie-ups" between different io speed devices and the cpu,etc,,, Gene's team designed a single master channel that passed io data subsystems that worked thru a special cache access. this gave the V6 series an edge over the newest IBM hardware for a long time. On simple modeling, IBM could not find any real benefit........ until real time analysis of new dynamic memory refresh cycle showed "issues" in delays.......

  18. Melanie Winiger


    Amdahl was a legend from the days when IT was run by people who actually knew how to program a computer instead of Excel merchants, Accountants, "Project Managers" with zero technical knowledge and a plethora of subcontinent workers. I have no problem with the latter driving down my Terms and Conditions. That's life. But I do have a problem dealing with the amount of blatantly fake CVs I see.

    Was it better then?

    On balance, yes it was.

    We got more stuff done, we had less meetings. We learnt everyday.

    And we didn't have to waste time filling in time sheets or producing cost-benefit analyses to do the bleeding obvious.


    Maybe I am.

    RIP Gene. They don't make them like you these days...

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