Gene Amdahl was born in Flandreau, South Dakota, in 1922. He holds a BS in engineering physics (1948) from South Dakota State University and MS and PhD (1952) degrees in theoretical physics from the University of Wisconsin.
Amdahl joined IBM directly upon graduation and made an immediate impact as chief architect of IBM's 704 scientific mainframe computer. This far outsold initial predictions, cementing Amdahl's reputation as a rising star. Amdahl left IBM in 1956 but returned in 1960 to become chief architect of their System/360 family of computers, a daring business and technical gamble that became one of the greatest success stories in the history of computing.
In 1970, Amdahl left IBM for the second and final time to pursue his dream of building his own computers, founding Amdahl Corporation. His new company made mainframe computers that ran IBM software, but at lower cost. At its peak, it captured nearly one-fifth of the market. The Amdahl company prospered and was eventually purchased by Fujitsu when costs made further development difficult without a well-funded partner. Amdahl founded several other companies in the 1980s, developing advanced computer systems and technologies.
Amdahl was a Fellow of the US National Academy of Engineering (1967).
He passed away in 2015.