Got a IBM 5362 Today (Keys)

From: Colin Eby <>
Date: Mon Mar 29 19:54:56 2004

Keys --

Sorry I didn't pick this up over the weekend.... Here's what you have:

_S/36 Midrange Server_
o Arch: 16bit
o CPUs: 1 IO proc x 1 CP prc
o Mem: 128k - 2MB
o Disk: 20MB - 120MB ( 1 or 2 14" HDD), 1.2MB 8" FDD

This was IBM's main midrange offering through the 80s and into the 90s. It
was replaced by the AS/400 (which usually has an S/36 compatibility mode
available). If you've ever worked with AS/400s, you'll find the system a
less feature rich version of much the same thing. What I must emphasize is
this is not a PC. Nor is there a BSD / Linux variant for it. This machine
has much more in common with s/360 hardware architecture than i386. The
data storage is a flat address space. It's organized into libraries,
members and files. A typical application relies on a fixed field length
data file format, separate sort and query facilities. IBM has invented
relational databases, but the were only available on the more exotic S/38.
Here were looking at flat datastructures. Generally speaking one programmed
this in RPG II language, although there were editions of COBOL , FORTRAN
and BASIC available.

It's target audience was the same as Novell's. IBM saw the S/36 as the hub
of many PCs with 5250 adapter cards. The nodes could share data through the
server, use shared printing and data storage, even use an e-mail like
messaging system -- and yet they would still have their standalone
facilities if required. Once on your System/36, you could explore centrally
managed access to mainframes, peer, or hub and spoke arranged hosts of
varying kinds. You could could even call in via modem pool from home. Most
people don't view IBM offerings as sexy, but this was very straightforward
server platform that provided reliability, shared resources and
connectivity. A lot of small to medium sized companies powered them up and
kept them in service for a decade before moving to a more PC oriented
client server platform in the 90s. These critters are still humming away in
dusty corners of 3rd world in suprising numbers.

So what are you gonna do with it now? The dual processors and their
dispatching system haven't peaked the interest of the hobbyist. And the
system architecture isn't well documented, at least not in the public
domain.That rules out a Linux or BSD variant. You will have to run S/36 on
it unless your an assembler god with top notch contacts in an IBM
retirement home. That's where this whole thing becomes sticky. Your post
indicated you didn't have media or manuals. The first part of the manual
conundrum may be easy. Your model -- the middle tier in the range -- had
it's hardware manual strapped to the inside of the cover panel. You may
already have worked that out in the midst of cleaning the dust out. There
are no manuals available in the public realm that I know of. That's where I
come in. I have most of the available media and manuals. I have a few
things scanned -- although the scans are huge. Media's tricky. There's no
IBM hobbyist policy. In theory you still have to buy licenses. So I would
suggest you do what I did. Call around the AS/400 houses and watch eBay for
any listings of used 8" diskettes with IBM labels. But before you do any of
that, see if you can get it running as is. You may not need media. These
beasts are tough. The drives don't generally go bad. The first thing you
need is a cleaning, some kind of 5250 compatible device plugged into the
first workstation port... and lots of luck. I recommend a real green
screen. PC emulators have so many possible settings, it's more predictable
to plug up a real terminal. If you get to an IPL settings screen we can
talk about how to get past security, and what kinds of snags you're likely
to find.

Colin Eby
Received on Mon Mar 29 2004 - 19:54:56 BST

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