We All Use Mainframes, Every Day

When was the last time you used a mainframe? It was probably much more recently than you realize. Here’s why.

Unless you’re a mainframe programmer or operator, it’s pretty unlikely that you often — or ever — sit down at a mainframe terminal and use a mainframe system directly.

However, if you apply a somewhat more liberal definition to the term use, virtually everyone who does anything uses a mainframe every day.

Here are examples of routine tasks and events in which mainframes play a part.

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Booking a Plane Ticket

If you book a plane ticket or check into a flight, there’s a good chance that your data and transaction is being handled by a mainframe somewhere.

Sure, the airline website that you interact with may be hosted on a commodity server, and you might access it using a PC or a smartphone. But ultimately, the infrastructure that makes airline reservations work is still powered by mainframes in many cases. That has been the case since 1946, when American Airlines first introduced computer-assisted bookings.

Cashing a Check

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If you do any type of banking, a mainframe is probably part of the infrastructure that makes the transaction possible.

This is true not just in the case of online banking, but also in-person banking. Banks have to store and process their records somewhere, and the massive computing capacity of mainframes helps them to do it.

Buying Car Insurance

Insurance companies, too, rely on mainframes to help process and store all of the data that powers their business. The next time you open a new insurance policy or file a claim, you can thank a mainframe for helping to make it possible.

Paying Taxes

You probably don’t feel like thanking anyone when it comes time to pay your taxes. But whatever mood you’re in, know that the IRS uses mainframes to help process your tax payments — or, if you’re lucky, send you a tax refund.

Visiting the Doctor

When you go to see your doctor, the health records that he or she accesses about you may be stored on mainframes. Your health insurance company probably relies on mainframes to help process claims and payments, too. Mainframes remain an important part of the infrastructure that powers the healthcare industry all around.

Download our 2018 State of the Mainframe report to learn about what this year has in store.

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