IBM System/38 Available for Free, Is It Worth It?

From: William Donzelli <>
Date: Sat Sep 20 18:03:45 1997

> > What say ye? Is it worth messing with in your opinion?


> If everyone thought like that there would be no more System/38's in
> existance. The point is not to have a room-sized 8088, but to have a
> System/38, one of the most forgettable systems (it seems) in the history
> of computing, so that it will be preserved.


I agree here, little is being saved of IBMs wares. Really, the stuff is
not that bad! IBM used to be evil (replaced mostly by Micro$oft), because
they wrote such awful software for their machines. The hardware, in
general, tends to be excellent - overengineered yes, but often clever and
almost always bulletproof. Of all minicomputers (and associated
hacker folklore), IBMs tend to get shortchanged - due mostly to not being
part of labs/academia (like Digital).

After all, how many people on this list have a System/3, 32, 34, 36, or
38? Or a Series/1? Or older AS/400s? Now, how many people have PDP-11s?
Whining I may be, but IBM stuff deserves a place in our collections and
museums. Most of what keeps it out is its bad reputation.

If you can get the System/38, do it. First, it is NOT a room sized 8088 -
the hardware is decent. The innards are built using IBMs somewhat bizzarre
fab techniques, and really does look alien. Alas, any software you might
get would probably not be worth running (mostly boring accounting stuff -
I doubt one could get decent compilers for the box). Thus, if you are like
me - a hardware/fab geek - the System/38 could be a really neat toy.

Back at RCS/RI, I have a System/38 sales document, that goes over some
technical basics of the machine. When I get there next, maybe I can help
you out. Also, if you decide to pass, please let the list know, as others
may be interested.

William Donzelli
Received on Sat Sep 20 1997 - 18:03:45 BST

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