Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Happy birthday AS400

happy 29th birthday as400

Today is the 29th anniversary of the launch of the AS400. It was June 21, 1988, when IBM announced their latest midsize server. You can see a video recording of the announcement here.

At its launch the AS400 server and its OS400 operating were ground breaking. Over the years the AS400 evolved, becoming the iSeries, System i, before becoming the IBM i we know today. Each descendent allowed you to do everything its ancestors could, and a whole lot more. We have now reached a situation where you can run multiple operating systems on the same PowerSystems server, IBM i is just one of them.

This video was made for the 25th anniversary and I think it make some excellent points about why this operating system has been so successful.

What of the future? Steve Will, chief architect for IBM i, and Doug Balog, general manager for PowerSystems, have written about how committed IBM is to this operating system. I have heard Steve Will say that there are plans for IBM i beyond 2025.

Let's raise a glass of our favorite beverages and toast this anniversary, and be grateful for what the hardware and software has become.


  1. And still IBM has the problem of not being able to get the word out that the "IBM I is not your father's AS400". While it can support and run most everything from the past, it can also keep up with what can be done today and the future. It is the IBM I community job to stay current and relevant so crappy systems and software don't make us look like we can only do legacy code and app's, but to steal a phrase from OS2 days, "we can do everything Windows does and better!".

    -- Jim

    1. So what. Android is even more "Not your father's AS400".

      The selling of AS400 is because it is "Your father's", it is compatible with all the software written for many years, stability and ease of use.

      In my opinion, the problem is that IBM added many new things to the AS400, but did not improove to much and did not modernize the exixting stuff.

      lets see jus a few of them
      1. The 5250 is almost the same as 30 years ago. No built in GUI that is as native as the 5250. Windows were added to the operating system, but i cannot intermix a window with a 80-24 screen with a window of 132-27 size. No font size, and only the same colors as 30 years ago.
      2. Subfiles remain almost the same as 30 years ago.
      3. The Command interface remained the same. Since the command interface does not have a screen, the system figures out by itself how to display it, it would have been a good candidate to have it displ;ayed in a guyi that would have been designed automaticaly by the system. But nothing was done up till now.

      The RPG language was completely redesigned, and still compatible, the great. I would expect the same with the 5250 stream to be completely redesigned and still compatible. Is it possible?

  2. I still miss the old 5250 keyboard, it had great textural feedback.

    1. You can get IBM-like keyboards for your PC, Mac, Linux machine. Easily find them by googling "IBM mechanical keyboard".

  3. Who knew great could be this simple!

  4. Happy Birthday AS/400, though like Trigger's broom (UK TV show Only Fools and Horses), are you really 29 year's old? You've been Silverlake, AS/400, iSeries, POWER, IBMi on POWER and other AKAs in that time; so to me you are a new generation! Sure you still run the RPG code we wrote in 1988 (and before) but you can do so much more now.

    P.S. I was at the UK launch at the NEC Birmingham. Still working on the platform today. Anybody else there from day 1?

    Steve Cast
    Redbourn Business Systems

    1. I've been on it since it's birthday. Started on System 34,36,38 before jumping to the first As400. It is a great machine!

  5. The AS/400 was IBM's way of consolidating their two mid-range platforms, the System/36 and System/38. The AS/400 started as a S/38 with an S/36 emulation environment and tons of new usability features.

    The IBM i OS has at its core the Control Program Facility OS of the S/38.

    1. When the AS400 was launched I was working for an IBM Business Partner, and IBM were eager for us, the largest System/36 BP in the UK, to learn OS400.

      We spent hours at IBM with their folks showing us how to do most things on the AS400. They said that the UI was modeled on the System/38, but the operating system was a complete rewrite. They took what they thought was the best of CPF and SSP and made OS400. They admitted there were somethings that System/36 did better than System/38.

    2. "They took what they thought was the best of CPF and SSP and made OS400."

      Thats what needs to be done now: Take the best of windows (or OS2 or android or something similar GUI) and the best of OS400 and make it one single unity.

      Changing names does not do anything.

  6. Worked on the first version of AS/400 back in London. Having gone S/34, S/36 & S/38 I loved the new AS/400. Still supporting some clients on the box today.

  7. As a newcomer (3 yrs of experience) and also with experience in web development, I have to say that AS400 is great but need to improve the way to approach to newcomers. I started with many other people of my age in a training program years ago but now I am the only one who stuck into iSeries development, the others did not find it very appealing.

    Anyway, happy birthday to the AS400!

  8. Happy 30th birthday As/400. Interestingly, our BPCS implementation began it's working life with us 30 years ago at the end of this month! Admittedly on a S/38, but we were on AS/400's (a C06), within a couple of years.
    Still on BPCS and through the range to IBM i's!
    Looking forward to an IBM future!

  9. I remember the big announcement of Silverlake at a Nestu (North Easter System 38 Users) meeting in Parsippany,NJ. Very exciting!

  10. Your blog is very helpful to me as I return to the workforce after 10 years. More blessings to you!


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