Somehow our industry has become known as "legacy." A horrible stigma to overcome, isn't it? But is it justified? Let's think about this for a moment.
Our current hardware platform is called Power Systems and is the exact same hardware that Watson used when he wonJeopardy: The IBM Challenge. Watson is quite probably the newest, highest-tech, and most advanced computer system in the world. I'll say it again: Our system runs on the exact same hardware.
Compare that to PC hardware. Today's PC architecture is still based on the x86 architecture originally introduced in 1978. While it's certainly true that PCs have evolved a great deal in the last 33 years, they still carry the baggage of their heritage. Every PC, even the latest and greatest, still contains 16-bit registers and operations and is still based on a CISC architecture. The original AS/400 was based on an old CISC-based architecture as well, but unlike the PC, we've been able to eliminate the need for hardware compatibility to that older technology.
Perhaps it's not the hardware that makes us legacy, then? Our OS is currently called IBM i but is a direct descendant of OS/400, which was released in 1988. That's pretty old, isn't it? OS/400 is really CPF from the S/38 with enhancements, and CPF dates back to 1979. Incredibly old, right?
How does that stack up against the competition, then? The first release of UNIX was in 1969. Hey, that's 10 years older! Mac OS X is derived from the NeXT and BSD operating systems, which in turn, were derived from UNIX.
Windows is newer, right? All of today's versions of Windows are descendants of Windows NT, which is the newer type of Windows, versus the now-defunct DOS-based Windows 9X line. Development of Windows NT dates back to 1988, when they were collaborating with IBM and calling it OS/2 NT. So, it's a bit newer than IBM i, I guess. As we all know, the collaboration between Microsoft and IBM fell apart. Microsoft then hired a group of developers from Digital Equipment Corporation, who built much of Windows NT based on the DEC VMS and RSX-11 architecture. That's right, Windows is arguably based on RSX-11, an operating system released in 1972. Now saying that Windows is descended from RSX-11 isn't completely fair, because NT is actually more closely related to PRISM, an unreleased DEC OS from 1982. But PRISM was based on UNIX.
Our platform runs on the most advanced hardware available today. The operating system may not be young, but it's not really any older than the competition.
I guess our system is legacy because:
- It's not what young kids coming out of school are familiar with.
- The 5250 interface makes a bad impression on newcomers.
- The vendors marketing software for other platforms have marketed their stuff as new and our stuff as old.
In short: It's all in the perception.
-- EOF --