What are the different types of mainframes? Mainframes are high-performance computers used for large scale intensive processing not possible on normal single user machines. Mainframes are most often used by Banks, Governments, Corporations and large IT firms. They are more secure and can handle large amounts of data from many users simultaneously. Mainframes used to be large, room sized behemoths that ran into the millions of dollars per machine, however with current technology a mainframe computer can be no bigger then your average desktop personal computer, albeit much more powerful. Where mainframe computers differ from the personal computer is their enormous I/O capability, processing, and storage capacity, sometimes each function is physically located in a different rack or frame, maybe even in a rack or frame many miles apart. Different types of Mainframe computers are used as the central hub of a business or corporation’s data network, handling thousands of user requests per second without any delay in data processing or storage. All types of mainframe computers also tend to run their own specialty operating systems. In today’s world of commercial data processing, the term mainframe has become synonymous with the term server and are almost completely interchangeable terms as only a few companies, like IBM, refer to their large scale servers as mainframes anymore.
One of the first types of mainframe computers was the ENIAC (electronic numerical integrator and calculator) which was first used at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. ENIAC played a major role in the development of the atomic bomb. This wonder of modern computing consisted of some 30 separate units, a power supply and it’s own forced air cooling system. It weighed over thirty tons and possessed a dizzying amount of Vacuum Tubes, relays, resistors and capacitors, it consumed close to 200 kilowatts of power to run and it’s use paved the way for the
EDVAC mainframe computer. One of the other types of mainframe computers is the UNIVAC I, which first saw use at the United States Census Bureau. Offering improvements in processing power over it’s predecessors like ENIAC, UNIVAC came in a smaller size (only about the size of a small garage). UNIVAC was used with great accuracy in 1951 to help predict the Presidential Election of Eisenhower over Stevenson, though it’s results were not published until much later.
In 1961, Burroughs Large Systems Group designed and produced the B5000 type of mainframe computer which later led to the development of the B6500, B6700 and B7700 mainframes. Though no longer in use, Unisys uses the same architecture in their Clearpath Libra servers and still provides backwards compatibility with the initial MCP operating system that ran the B6700 mainframes.
One of the last types of mainframe computers I’ll talk about is the IBM’s first attempt at a mainframe, the ASCC (automatic sequence control computer) was released in 1944 and was capable of solving multiplication and addition problems in a matter of seconds. It was however hampered by IBM’s reluctance to use transistors like most of it’s competition. IBM’s persistence in the market and their experimentation with the RAMAC computer led the way for the development of our current day computer memory, RAM. (random access memory). IBM still sells mainframe computers to this day with over 10,000 installed mainframes worldwide.Other notable types of mainframe manufacturers are Unisys, Hewlett Packard, Fujitsu and NEC. These manufacturers hold the 10% of the mainframe sales market that IBM does not.