As a fan of the show Mad Men and its wonderful anachronisms, I had a good chuckle over Sterling Cooper & Partners’ season 6 acquisition of the IBM System 360. Without spoiling much for anyone who hasn’t seen it, the firm attempts to step up its data research game by bringing in a computer mainframe so mammoth it takes over the entire employee lounge, and seems so alien and imposing that one staffer worries it might actually be reading his thoughts.
The introduction of the IBM 360 50 years ago was actually revolutionary, and it helped pave the way for the modern computing systems we use today. And I’m sure that generations of ad men believed it was an effective tool for winning accounts and selling more soap. But in terms of capabilities, it probably did less than a first-generation iPod shuffle.