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The University Magazine

IBM honors grad with top technical award

Jeffrey Frey

Jeffrey Frey 83 is one of 217 living IBM fellows.

Two months after graduation, Jeffrey Frey '83 (computer science) began his career at IBM's Poughkeepsie, N.Y., facility.

That's worked out well for Frey and the company.

"This is the home of the mainframe," says Frey. "I've spent all of my career in and around System z."

In May, Frey was named an IBM fellow - the company's highest technical distinction - for his work with the venerable operating system. Frey played a pivotal role in The zEnterprise System, unveiled in July. The zEnterprize System is the result of more than $1.5 billion in IBM research and development and more than three years of collaboration with IBM's top clients around the world.

System z traces its roots to IBM's System/360, introduced in April 1964. At that time, IBM promised that the operating system would remain compatible with future IBM technology, "and we've held true to that promise," says Frey. More than four decades later, applications written for that early operating system can still run on the newest System z -a great benefit for longtime customers.

System z, explains Frey "has the good fortune of having been adopted by some of the major companies in the world. It is still a backbone of commercial data processing and transaction processing."

In fact, Frey's father was a computer programmer working at Goodyear Tire in Akron, Ohio, and worked on the project that brought the first System/360 to the company.

But it wasn't clear that Jeff Frey would follow in his father's footsteps. "I didn't know what I wanted to do. I didn't have access to computers back when I was in high school," he says.

His dad suggested giving programming a try. He graduated from Monroe Community College, then came to RIT.

"I just kind of fell into it, but it didn't take long for me to get lit up by programming," he says. "I just loved it. When I came over to RIT, I stepped it up."

Being named an IBM fellow is a tremendous achievement. Since the program's inception in 1963, only 217 individuals have earned this designation - a group that includes Nobel Prize winners. The title carries a lot of weight and respect across the industry as well as within IBM - and especially with some very important people in his life: his parents, Thomas and Janice Frey of Macedon, N.Y.

"They were very proud when I got hired by IBM. Now, they're walking on air."