Jul 8

CICS Turns 50!

by Bob Thomas 

Fifty years ago, on July 8, 1969, IBM released CICS (Customer Information Control System). And who would have imagined what an historic day it would eventually be.

It all started in the mid-1960s when IBM decided to address the fact that public utilities needed to greatly improve their customer service response times. Ben Riggins, an IBM systems engineer at Virginia Electric Power Co., came up with the idea for the online transaction processing system we now know as CICS. In fact, he became its principal architect of the early releases. He is often considered to be the “Father of CICS.”

When news spread about the capabilities of CICS, many other industries were eager jump on the CICS bandwagon too. Based on the customer interest in CICS, IBM ultimately moved worldwide responsibility for CICS to Hursley, United Kingdom. And today, some 45 years after the move, Hursley still handles the core development work. (Note: As publisher of mainframe magazines such as Mainframe Journal, Enterprise Systems Journal, z/Journal and now Enterprise Tech Journal and Enterprise Executive; I have been blessed to know and work with such terrific people and brilliant CICS gurus as Nick Garrod, Andy Wright and others who have authored excellent CICS articles in our magazines.)

It’s interesting to note that early on, IBM didn’t realize the amazing profit potential CICS had until software unbundling was forced on them by the courts. So years later, according to Steve Mills, former IBM Sr. Vice President, “CICS is the backbone of so many companies around the world, it is really at the core of IBM’s value proposition.”  

Today, CICS is at work billions times a day processing the world’s transactions. Most everybody touches CICS every day without realizing it, making CICS the most successful piece of software of all time.