During the 1960s, Bob Evans led the team that developed the IBM System/360, an entirely new approach to mainframe computing. The System/360 was the first total family of compatible computers and the first that enabled different applications to run on the same system simultaneously. Prior to the introduction of the 360, each computer was a unique system built to a specific customer's order with no continuity from design to design.
Development of the System/360 became known as the "bet the company" gamble. Developed at a cost of $5 billion (more than $40 billion in current dollars) and at a time when IBM's revenue was only $3.2 billion, the System/360 was the largest privately financed commercial project undertaken to that time.
The architecture introduced by Evans and his team four decades ago is still in use in IBM mainframes.
President Ronald Reagan honored Evans with the National Medal of Technology in 1985 in recognition of his work on the System/360. In 1991, he was presented with a Computer Pioneer Award from the Computing Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.
Bob Evans died at the age of 77 on September 2, 2004.
The following is the text of an IBM biography published in April 1984.
Bob O. Evans is IBM vice president, engineering, programming and technology.
Mr. Evans joined IBM in 1951 as a junior engineer in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where he took part in the development of IBM's first large-scale computers. After various assignments in computer development, he was promoted in 1962 to vice president, development, for the Data Systems Division which included overall management responsibility for development of IBM System/360.
In January 1965, he was named president of the Federal Systems Division which develops advanced products for the national interest. In October 1969, Mr. Evans was promoted to president of the Systems Development Division, responsible for the definition, architecture, and systems management of IBM's principal computer product lines, and was elected an IBM vice president in June 1972. He was appointed president of the System Communications Division in May 1975, responsible for designing, developing and manufacturing of terminal and computer communications related products. He was named to his present post in April 1977, responsible for coordinating the effectiveness of IBM's worldwide engineering, programming and technology activities.
In addition, since 1974 Mr. Evans has been a member of the Partner's and Executive Committee of Satellite Business Systems, a partnership involving Aetna, Comsat General and IBM. He is responsible for coordinating IBM' s involvement in this communications satellite-based company.
Mr. Evans received a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Iowa State University in 1949 and had done graduate work at Syracuse University. In June 1971, he was awarded Iowa State's Professional Achievement Citation in Engineering. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), served on the Defense Science Board, is a member of the Board of Trustees of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a member of the MIT Visiting Committee for the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, a public member of the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, a member of the Board of Trustees of the New York Public Library and a consultant to the Premier of the Republic of China.