Last Updated: 3 August 2022

IBM VM 50th anniversary

A look back through the last 50 years of VM technology and innovation


z/VM Celebrating 50 years of Virtualization Innovation On August 2, 1972 VM/370 was announced by IBM along with the first System/370 mainframes that supported virtual memory. This date is considered VM's anniversary even though the major components of VM (CP and CMS) date back to the mid 1960s with CP-40 and CP-67. From VM/370 in the 1970s, the operating system spawned many iterations in the 1980s: VM/SP (System Product), VM/SP HPO (High Performance Option), VM/IS (Integrated System), VM/XA (eXtended Architecture). In 1990, IBM converged the VM operating systems to a single product -- VM/ESA. In the year 2000, IBM announced the introduction of support for the 64-bit z/Architecture, and as a result, VM's name was changed from VM/ESA to z/VM. z/VM continued the VM/ESA release numbering convention, and is preparing z/VM 7.3 release later this year. On August 2, 2022 z/VM is celebrating 50 years of virtualization innovation.

The information and videos below capture only a few of the major milestones for the product over the past 50+ years. For a more complete history of VM visit the z/VM history page and the VM timeline for more information.

VM in the 1970s

Users of VM/370 quickly came to understand the advantages of running virtual machines in their environment. IBM shipped the source code with VM/370 to customers which gave them the ability to make custom modifications. VM users would often share their modifications with others which helped create a thriving community.

1972: Introduction to VM/370 video

This introductory to VM/370 video was shown to IBM Field Engineers (FE) in 1972. Field Engineers were responsible for maintaining and repairing equipment installed at customer sites. This video describes the how virtual machines work, its features and advantages of the virtual storage technique in improved computing.

1975: VM/370 and CMS video demo

Demonstration at Northeast Region Datacenter of VM/370 and CMS (Conversational Monitor System) showing how they provide program development and problem solving capability for DOS/VS and OS/VS users. Includes customer statement on how his Data Processing operation benefits from VM/CMS.

VM/370 and S/370s historical documents


VM in the 1980s

As VM continued to rise in popularity the community demanded more and more custom software. The 1980s gave rise to Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that saw the need in the market creating and selling their own VM applications.

In 1980, VM/System Product (SP) was released as the replacement to VM/370. VM/SP continued to see new releases throughout the decade and spawned a High Performance Option (HPO) of the OS for select systems. VM/Integrated System (IS) was created as a more user-friendly system for entry-level environments. VM/eXtended Architecture (XA) was created as a migration aid for MVS. There even was a flavor of VM/SP R2 for the PC (VM/PC)! In addition to all the iterations of VM, IBM released major new capabilities for VM: XEDIT, Rexx, and CMS Pipelines to name a few.

1981: Distributed Processing with VM/SP

The IBM Cambridge Scientific Center introduces 4300 and VM/SP facilities that allow distributed 4300s to operate unattended at remote locations. Results of an IBM University of Maine test of these facilities are reviewed by university staff. Other subjects include the university's growing demand for computing at different campuses and the benefits of augmenting the central site VM/SP S/370 3031 with distributed VM/SP 4300s.

1981: VM/SP R2 Announcement

October 1981 hardware and software announcement VC87-042. George Conrades talks about the Data Processing Division's role in IBM. New functions, hardware and software are announced. There are improvements to the 3033 and a larger version of the 3081. Other announcements - MVS/SP enhancement to software, VM/SP enhancement, MVS/XA, 3033 improved price performance. A visit to Poughkeepsie where the high end processors are manufactured. Dr. Jack Bertram, President of Data Systems Division, accompanies George Conrades on the tour. S/370 extended architecture and MVS/XA software. Visits are made to Albuquerque, NM, to the city government and to DuPont in Wilmington, DE, where IBM's equipment is being used.

1987: Introducing VM/IS

VM/Integrated Systems (IS) was released in 1985. It was intended to be a scaled-down VM operating system for entry-level users and basic environments. VM/IS was a modified version of VM/SP R4. VM/IS could be navigated through panel-driven displays reducing the reliance of the command line prompt.

1988: VM Distributed Systems and Your Business

This video highlights the capabilities of distributed, or networked, computer systems harnessing the power of the VM operating system.

1980s VM-related historical documents


VM in the 1990s

The ninties saw two major unifications for VM. The various VM operating systems converged to a single flagship product: VM/Enterprise Systems Architecture (ESA). The other unification involved the IBM US development team that saw the members of the Kingston, NY facility moved to a single development laboratory in Endicott, NY.

At the very tail end of the 1990s a "skunkworks" project was underway that would forever change the way how VM was used across the globe.

1990: IBM Endicott In-Site - Featuring VM/ESA Announcement

IBM Endicott In-Site from fall 1990. S/390 mainframe announcement. Enterprise System 9000 family of processors. IBM ES/9000 models 120, 130, 150, 170 were developed and manufactured in Endicott, NY. Also announced were the Microchannel 370 models: 110, 112, 114. All were developed and manufactured in Endicott, NY. The announcement included VM/ESA operating system which was also developed in Endicott.

1992: Technical Insights - VM/ESA - Edition 1.1

June 1992: S/390 Technical Insights - Edition 1.1 featuring VM/ESA.

1992: Technical Insights - VM/ESA - Edition 1.2

October 1992: S/390 Technical Insights - Edition 1.2 featuring VM/ESA.

1993: VM/ESA Technical Insights - Edition 1.3

July 1993: S/390 Technical Insights - Edition 1.3 featuring VM/ESA.

1993: Nick Donofrio Message to VM Community

IBM Senior Vice President and General Manager, Nick Donofrio, presents a message to the VM Community on September 24, 1993.

1992: OfficeVision for VM R2 - Help Desk Training

Providing Effective Support for OfficeVision VM R2. This video education was intended for IBM Help Desk personnel. Filmed on September 29, 1992.

1995: VM/ESA 2.1 Announcement

VM/ESA Version 2 Release 1 was announced on September 13, 1994, and was made generally available on October 27, 1995. The main new features of VM/ESA 2.1 were OpenEdition and CMS GUI.

1990s VM historical documents


VM in the 2000s

The project that reshaped how customers thought about and use VM was the invention of running Linux as a guest of VM. Immediately, the VM community recognized the amazing potential, and soon tests were being performed to see just how many Linux guests a single VM instance could support (see PDF links below).

On October 3, 2000 IBM announced zArchitecture and with that VM/ESA was rebranded z/VM. In February 2001, the z/VM 3.1 release enabled 64-bit guest OS support. Ten z/VM releases throughout the decade brought new function, security, and performance enhancements to the platform.

2000: e-business campaign - "Linux Open Source"

2001: e-business campaign - "The Heist"

2002: e-business campaign - "The Game"

2003: e-business campaign - "Prodigy"

2004: e-business campaign - "Shake Up the World"

z/VM historical documents


VM in the 2010s

In 2011, z/VM 6.2 featured key business continuity function with Single System Image (SSI) and Live Guest Relocation (LGR). The z/VM 7.1 release ushered in the era of Continuous Delivery. New function became available on a quarterly basis and releases included all new function and service that was made available in the continuous delivery stream. This regular cadence allowed customers to plan in advance for upgrades, and allowed for the option to hang back on a stabilized release.

The decade also saw more structured interactions between IBM VM development and the VM community. In 2016, the z/VM Sponsor User program was formalized allowing any z/VM customer or ISV to participate in design discussions and beta testing. The z/VM Council held its first monthly meeting in May 2018.

2017: Introducing z/VM 7.1 and Continuous Delivery

Bill Bitner highlights z/VM 7.1 and explains the benefits of shifting the release of new function to a continuous delivery service model.


VM in the 2020s

z/VM continues to focus in four key areas: security, scalability, systems management, and hardware support. So far this decade has already seen support for these essential areas with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), 4 TB Memory Support, Dynamic Memory Downgrade (DMD), and support for the IBM z16.

What defines this decade for VM still remains to be seen; however, VM will be continuing to innovate virtualization through this decade and beyond.

2020: Linux on Z - A Tipping Point in History

Looking back at 20 years of Linux on IBM Z mainframes.

2021: Linux on IBM System z Timeline

20 years of Linux on IBM System z Timeline