Bad Tech Predictions: From Flying Cars to the Death of Mainframes

by | Mar 20, 2019

In 1940, Henry Ford famously said, “Mark my word: a combination airplane and motorcar is coming. You may smile, but it will come.”

In 1964, Isaak Asimov surmised that we’d all be zipping around in flying cars by 2014, using jets full of compressed air to lift vehicles off the ground. And yet, we still wait.

History is littered with bad predictions, some of the most absurd are:

  • 1876: A Western Union internal memo: “This telephone has too many shortcomings to be considered a serious means of communications.”
  • 1957: Prentice Hall Books, Editor: “I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked to the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.”
  • 1977: Ken Olson, CEO of Digital Equipment: “There is no reason for any individual to have a home computer.”
  • 1991: Stewart Alsop, former InfoWorld editor-in-chief and venture capitalist: “I predict that the last mainframe will be unplugged on March 15, 1996.”
  • 1995: Newsweek: “The truth is no online database will ever replace your daily newspaper.”
  • 1996: New York Times: “Apple as we know it is cooked. It’s so classic. It’s so sad.”

We could go on, but you get the point.

Alsop, to his great credit, now admits to his error. He was not alone in predicting the death of the mainframe. To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the mainframe’s death are greatly exaggerated.

Not only is the mainframe not dead, it is thriving! Today’s mainframe is the cornerstone of the hybrid cloud. Ninety of the top one hundred global banks and 70% of the global 500 still use mainframe-based systems as the system of record. Mainframes process three trillion dollars in transactions per day – almost 2,000 times more than PayPal. They process eight times more transactions than Google and Twitter combined.

Unfortunately, mainframes are still viewed as an obstacle to innovation. The knee-jerk reaction from board rooms across the world is to rip and replace. Jettison the old systems and put in something modern.  But that is all but impossible. According to the Wall Street Journal, no major bank has ever replaced its mainframe. Even if you could it would take years…or decades. Meanwhile, competition moves on.

The answer is to transform your mainframe from an obstacle to an enabler of innovation. You do that by creating what IDC calls the connected mainframe. Put a digital wrapper around the legacy systems and you can innovate faster.

Adaptigent’s Adaptive Integration Fabric is the solution. We enable companies to create APIs for the connected mainframe five to ten times faster than any other approach. Let us show you how.


About the Author

Steve Hassett is the President of GT Software. Steve previously held roles as an M&A advisor, a corporate development executive with Verint Systems and Sage Group plc, and ran a new ventures group for The Weather Channel. Prior to that, he was CEO of iTendant, a SaaS and mobile software company he co-founded in 2000. Steve is also the inventor of U.S. Patent 9,378,515, which deals with the availability of mobile content based on a user’s location and the time of transmission.