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Open Mainframe in Japan

By | February 23, 2021

Mainframes are often seen as antiquated and obsolete technology but they have proven their staying power time and time again. Their speed, power and security continue to make them essential for global businesses in a number of industries, particularly those that are data-centered. 

This is particularly true for businesses in the United States but also in other regions. In this article, we’ll be focusing on mainframes in Japan. 

According to the Computer History Museum, one of the first mainframe computers was the NEC’s NEAC (Nippon Electric Automatic Computer) 2203, an early transistorized computer, and it was multi-lingual in both fixed-point and floating point and had Roman and Japanese characters. It managed Japan’s first on-line, real-time reservation system for Kinki Nippon Railways in 1960.

IBM Japan, a wholly owned subsidiary of IBM, along with other foreign subsidiaries, originally dominated the Japanese market. However, Japan’s industry developed with extraordinary speed and moved into international markets. The leading computer manufacturers in Japan at the end of the 1980s (in the domestic market) were Fujitsu, IBM Japan, Hitachi, NEC, and Unisys in mainframes. 

Since then, mainframes have continued to evolve as the technology has and continues to be a key component of the ever-changing IT landscape. Open Mainframe Project, an open source initiative that enables collaboration across the mainframe community to develop shared tool sets and resources, was launched in 2015. Today, Open Mainframe Project has become an umbrella project that is home to 16 different open source projects including a COBOL Working Group and a Zowe Conformance Program. 

Project Platinum members like Broadcom, IBM, Rocket Software, SUSE and Silver members such as Canonical, HCL Technologies, Micro Focus, Phoenix Software, Red Hat, Vicom Infinity and more work together in the open source community to advance mainframe-related technology. 

Open Mainframe Project is partnering with The Linux Foundation Japan office to host a Meetup on Wednesday, March 3 from 10 am- 12 pm JST (5-7 pm PST /8-10 pm EST on March 2). The virtual event is free to attend. Interested attendees can register here:

The agenda and speakers for the event are listed below: 

  • Open Source on the mainframe – John Mertic, Linux Foundation, Director, Open Mainframe Project
  • Zowe – Jakub Balhar, Broadcom, Zowe TSC Chairperson
  • Linux and open source on IBM Z and LinuxONE – Mike Friesenegger, SUSE, Feilong TSC Co-chairperson
  • COBOL – Sudharsana Srinivasan, IBM, COBOL Programming Course TSC Chairperson; Dave Nicolette, COBOL Check TSC Chairperson, and Cameron Seay, East Carolina University, COBOL Working Group Co-chairperson

To learn more about the meetup, click here for more details.