Equipped with a Ph.D from Howard Aiken's pioneering computer science program at Harvard, Brooks was recruited by IBM in 1956. Early in his career, he helped to design the significant IBM Stretch computer and he was the lead designer of the IBM 8000-series, which was not put into production.
Bob Evans, who was managing the development of a new cohesive computer product line, asked Brooks in 1961 to lead the search for a single family of general purpose systems to serve all customers. The team that Brooks assembled went on to develop the System/360, one of the most important technological developments of the 20th century. It was announced in 1964.
Brooks said in 2001: "Today's general purpose computers are the result of putting together the evolution of the scientific computing and business computing strands. We did that in the IBM S/360."
After serving as project manager for System/360, Fred Brooks took over the responsibility for the development of the 360 family's critical operating system, OS/360.
In 1965, Brooks accepted an invitation to come to the University of North Carolina (UNC) and found the University's computer science department.
Since then, Brooks has been honored for his professional achievements, including the 1985 Medal of Technology, the 1995 Bower Award and the 1999 A.M. Turing Award (the "Nobel Prize of Computing").
When Brooks won the Franklin Institute's Bower Award, the citation credited Brooks with defining "a concept of computer architecture that separated computer software from hardware, allowing those two fundamental realms of the computer age to develop dynamically and independently."
Of his more recent teaching and research work at UNC, Brooks said in 2001: "I love what I do. I can't think of anything I'd rather do than what I do."