It's Time to (Mostly) Retire Historical Mainframe Photos

325px-Candlestick_phoneChris Gaun at Gartner asks "Can Mainframes Be the Least Expensive Option?" (Well of course they can!) But I must take issue with his editor who decided to illustrate Mr. Gaun's blog post with a photo of an IBM 704 mainframe taken in 1957.

What's the freakin' point? Shouldn't illustrations have some reasonable relevance to the story? (And why stop there? How about a picture of Charles Babbage's difference engine? Or an abacus? Good grief!)

Here's a proposition. If every news editor starts illustrating all Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Nokia Lumia, and RIM BlackBerry stories with photos of analog cellular "bag" phones or rotary dial "candlestick" phones, and if every editor illustrates all stories about Apple iPad and Google Nexus tablets with photos of a 12th century monk's manuscript, I'll drop my objection to illustrating mainframe-related stories with photos taken years or decades before I was born. Do we have a deal?

Unless you're specifically writing about an IBM 704 and its use in 1957 at NASA, that's a really, really dumb photo to choose for your story about the popularity of 5.5 GHz IBM zEnterprise mainframes in 2013. Update: NASA didn't actually exist until 1958. However, NASA is the source of the photo Gartner used. The photo might make sense accompanying an article about NASA's computing history. That isn't Mr. Gaun's article.

Smartphone, circa 1928.

by Timothy Sipples January 29, 2013 in Analysts, Blogs, Media


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