Days of 16-ton servers recalled at ASB event

Nowadays, an equivalent dual-server would weigh around one ton and support several thousand terminals, as against 350 terminals in 1982

Sixteen tons and what do you get — the weight of an old-fashioned server back in 1982.

Nowadays, an equivalent dual server would weigh around one ton and support several thousand terminals, as against 350 terminals in 1982.

The differences in weight — and capacity — of servers 25 years on came up at the recent, slightly belated, celebration of the 30th anniversary of the partnership between ASB Bank and Unisys.

The contrast also served to remind local users of just how far the ICT industry has come in a short time. And New Zealand’s banking sector is particularly proud of its achievements in computerising its services during this time.

ASB’s first Unisys mainframe was installed on December 27, 1977. When fully implemented, the applications based on the machine provided an online service to all the bank’s branches, allowing customers to bank at any branch with equal ease. The mainframe was so massive, however, that it had to be transported in pieces, and the replacement dual servers installed five years later weighed 16 tons.

In the 1970s, five other major banks in New Zealand — the ANZ, the BNZ, National, Westpac and the Commercial Bank of Australia (which has since merged with Westpac) — ran IBM-based systems at the shared service company Databank. The latter was another development pioneered by the local banking and ICT industries.

Since 1977, the ASB’s ClearPath core banking application has expanded to support ATMs that can operate 24/7; debit and credit cards; point of sale; and telephone, internet and mobile banking, as well as contact centre and branches.

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