IBM’s Black Team

Tangled Webs:

The computing world was different in the 1960’s. Computers were massive, expensive, and required full-time staff just to keep them running. Product cycles were scheduled in years not months. Tasks modern programming tools do in seconds took weeks. And whenever a new computer model was developed, the operating system and all applications had to be developed from scratch.
Perhaps the most significant difference, however, was that despite the tremendous complexity of building computer systems in this manner, customers insisted that these systems work correctly. Today, software vendors have conditioned us to believe that bugs are an inevitable part of software, but in the 1960’s a buggy operating system was properly considered to be a defective product. Customers do not pay for defective products.

Told as an anecdote, this is the sort of thing I’d happily read as a full book. The computing boom of the 1960s was a fascinating time.

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