Conversational Monitor System - History


CMS was originally developed as part of IBM's CP/CMS operating system. At the time, the acronym meant "Cambridge Monitor System" (but also: "Console Monitor System").

  • CMS first ran under CP-40, a one-off research system using custom hardware at IBM's Cambridge Scientific Center. Production use at CSC began in January 1967. The CMS user interface drew heavily on experience with the influential first-generation time-sharing system CTSS, some of whose developers worked on CP/CMS. (CTSS was used as an early CP/CMS development platform.)
  • Later in 1967, CP/CMS became generally available on the IBM System/360-67, where, although the new control program CP-67 was a substantial re-implementation of CP-40, CMS remained essentially the same. IBM provided CP/CMS "as is" – without any support, in source code form, as part of the IBM Type-III Library. CP/CMS was thus an open source system. Despite this lack of support from IBM, CP/CMS achieved great success as a time-sharing platform; by 1972, there were some 44 CP/CMS systems in use, including commercial sites that resold access to CP/CMS.

In 1972, IBM released its VM/370 operating system, a re-implementation of CP/CMS for the System/370, in an announcement that also added virtual memory hardware to the System/370 series. Unlike CP/CMS, VM/370 was supported by IBM. VM went through a series of versions, and is still in use today as z/VM.

Through all its distinct versions and releases, the CMS platform remained still quite recognizable as a close descendant of the original CMS version running under CP-40. Many key user interface decisions familiar to today's users had already been made in 1965, as part of the CP-40 effort. See CMS under CP-40 for examples.

Both VM and CP/CMS had checkered histories at IBM. VM was not one of IBM's "strategic" operating systems, which were primarily the OS and DOS families, and it suffered from IBM political infighting over time-sharing versus batch processing goals. This conflict is why CP/CMS was originally released as an unsupported system, and why VM often had limited development and support resources within IBM. An exceptionally strong user community, first established in the self-support days of CP/CMS but remaining active after the launch of VM, made substantial contributions to the operating system, and mitigated the difficulties of running IBM's "other operating system".

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