[vcf-midatlantic] Internal Amdahl T-Shirt preservation

Martin Flynn maflynn at theflynn.org
Mon Jan 17 03:10:08 UTC 2022

InfoAge received a working Amdahl 5890 from AT&T (Was powered down by 
it's operations team, packed and and delivered to Camp Evans).

It was "accidentally" destroyed and scrapped out during the BRAC process 
at Camp Evans

Have a PDF of the web page if anyone wants more information...

Some 5890 Specifications:

On 1/16/2022 4:27 PM, Adam Michlin via vcf-midatlantic wrote:
> Hi Everyone,
> As some of you know, my father worked at Amdahl from 1984 to 1993. He
> held many roles, including Product Planning. Director of Design
> Automation, and ultimately Director of Storage, before moving on to
> other things.
> He has a t-shirt that was produced for internal usage only (it was not
> traditional swag) that Dean Notarnicola was kind enough to scan and
> Javier Rivera was kind enough to clean up for reprinting. Javier is
> also making it available for purchase, although neither Dean nor I
> receive any funds. I absolutely love Javier's store (check it out even
> if you aren't interested in Amdahl!) and look at it as my small
> contribution to support him. My only concern was making sure the
> history lived on.
> Here's the t-shirt:
> https://www.8bittees.com/product/amdahl-5990-tee/
> And here's the history behind the shirt in my father's own words
> (although we're still trying to figure out the significance of the
> bees):
> ---
> The Story of the Amdahl 5990
> During the 1970s era it took roughly 7 years from the time a mainframe
> project was initiated until the product actually shipped to customers.
> The technology of the time required advancing the semiconductors, then
> advancing the packaging and cooling, then advancing the architecture
> based on them, then tuning an operating system to support them and
> finally going through a tortuous bring-up and test process to assure
> that the mainframe – at prices ranging from $1 million or so up to
> perhaps $9-10 million – didn’t fail in embarrassing ways on a
> customer’s data center.
> This 7-year cycle applied to both IBM itself and Amdahl, its major
> plug-compatible competitor, and both knew it. Therefore each felt
> fairly secure in the competition to market their high end mainframes
> without fear of any short term surprises.
> But Amdahl was a partner, both technologically and financially with
> Fujitsu, a Japanese company. Fujitsu was offering mainframes of its
> own design under its own brand. They were sold mostly in the Japanese
> market and didn’t compete with IBM products as directly as Amdahl did.
> If Fujitsu needed to field a product directly competing with IBM, it
> offered an Amdahl.
> Japanese mainframe users often valued fast numerical (floating point)
> performance for scientific programs, and Fujitsu tended to design with
> this in mind. By contrast, American users were running more
> commercially oriented workloads, and IBM was known for designing to
> this requirement. Amdahl’s key competitive claim was high performance
> for various workloads including both scientific and commercial.
> So it came to pass that Fujitsu was well along in developing its next
> mainframe at a time when Amdahl and IBM were each only a year or two
> into their 7-year cycle. On a visit to Japan, Amdahl engineers learned
> about the coming Fujitsu product and decided that with some work to
> make it meet Amdahl’s “100% IBM plug-compatible” promise, it could
> compete with IBM in the U.S.
> And it would be a huge surprise since it would enter the market years
> before anyone expected a new, higher performance product from Amdahl,
> or IBM. As a result, it was treated as a top secret within Amdahl and
> quietly perfected under the code name “Hawk.” As it progressed from an
> engineering project toward seeing the light of day as a full fledged
> Amdahl product, it looked more and more promising, and secrecy became
> more and more critical. At one point as the code name “Hawk” seemed to
> be leaking, the project name was changed to “Lynx.”
> The rest is history. Hawk/Lynx was announced and shipped as the Amdahl
> model 5990. It was a big surprise to IBM and a market success,
> especially for scientific users.
> As a memento of the project, participants received a custom T-shirt, a
> common Silicon Valley tradition. The words on this T-shirt said
> “Amdahl 5990,” and the image combined a bird of prey – a Hawk – and a
> Lynx – a relatively large and wild bobcat. And those who had worked on
> the secret project knew exactly what it referred to.
> JM:
> 1/10/2022
> ---
> Best wishes,
>      -Adam

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