I consider this set of 150 products announced on April 7, 1964, to be the most important introduced by an American company in the 20th century. And I am not alone in that view. How we used computers around the world was shaped directly by these machines and software, including your cell phone. From IBM's perspective, the firm doubled its revenues in 36 months and went on to be the dominant computer company for a generation. For the computer industry, it grew at 19-20% compound rates over the next five years. The architecture of this technology proved so pervasive that (a) computer scientists are still struggling with how to break through to a new paradigm or way of doing computing, (b) all mainframes still use software written by IBM in the 1960s, and (c) it made possible the hiring of perhaps the most unique IBMer in the 1970s – ME!! Only with the massive diversification in the kinds of employees made possible by the success of this system did it make sense for IBM to bring in the diversified workforce that it did, including two people with Ph.D.s in history – ironically both trained in Spanish history. The other fellow, also into sales, was an expert on the 1920s and 1930s, graduated out of the U of New Mexico, and worked in Detroit. He was hired a year before me.
And that is the rest of the story. Happy Birthday S/360!