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NASA shuts down last ever mainframe

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has ended a remarkable chapter in the organisation's information technology history, by shutting down the IBM Z9 mainframe computer - the last one of its kind in NASA.

NASA's CIO, Linda Cureton, has stated that the last mainframe computer used by NASA was located at the Marshall Space Flight Center, and after pondering over its future for a prolonged period, the authorities had finally decided in favour of relieving it from its duties.

IBM Z9 was an important piece of hardware for NASA, when it came to calculating and solving complicated numerical problems relating to space flight. At the time it was shut down, the IBM Z9 was more or less the same size as a regular refrigerator.

The CIO has emphasised that shutting down of the last mainframe computers does not undermine the usability, or reliability of mainframe computers today.

"Even though NASA has shut down its last one, there is still a requirement for mainframe capability in many other organizations," Cureton explained, as reported by Information Week.

"The end-user interfaces are clunky and somewhat inflexible, but the need remains for extremely reliable, secure transaction oriented business applications," she added.

Rob Kerr is a journalist with more than 14 years experience of news, reviews and feature writing on titles such as Wired, PC Magazine, The Register, The Inquirer, Pocket-Lint, Mobile Industry Review, Know Your Mobile and The Gadget Show. The mobile phone world is his real passion and forte, having owned a handset as far back as 1994 where he has seen them grow from just a business tool to a necessity in everyone’s everyday life.