Friday, January 28, 2022

It's a luggable, huggable AS/400!

finding old as400

Opposite my office at work is a closet. I finally was given a key to it yesterday. I found that it is full of many, many old things: documentation for software my employer no longer uses, tapes of various types and size, CDs, floppy disks, what looks like many lengths of twinax cable, and one bag with an IBM logo on it.

I am a curious person so I took the bag from the closet into my office, wondering what this bag could contain.

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The bag contained a length of twinax cable, a Token ring cable, and a black cased computer that had an Advanced AS/400 logo on the front.

I had never seen one of these before. Could it be the smallest AS/400 ever made? In the picture below, on the left, I have placed a package of standard sized American paper next to it, when standing on its end the pack of paper is 11 inches or 28 cm high. Is this the model I knew by the nickname the "luggable, huggable"?

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There was a latch on the left side at the front which allowed me to open up the front panel like a door. There was the control panel that would be used for IPL-ing this server, and the model type on a label, 9401. This confirmed that it had to be a 9401-P03, the AS/400 that was designed to be portable and carried to meetings and sales demos.

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The back looks like:

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I found the Announcement letter for the 9401-P03 on the IBM website. This server was announced in February, 1995. I have no idea if this server was one of the first of these, or was purchased later.

While most of the contents of the closet will be consigned to a dumpster, or in the case of media securely shredded, this piece of hardware is going to be kept.

The announcement letter for the 9401-P03 can be found on the IBM website here.

17 comments:

  1. Wow - what a "beauty" - I would really love to own one of these. The "Portable" machines were really nice, and if I remember correctly, they were built, to support ISVs to "demo" their solutions to new customers on site.

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  2. well i knew from as/400 150,a desktop sized machine...this is new for me...

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  3. The company where I worked back in the day had one of this.

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  4. I remember seeing one of these. We got a loaner from IBM. Isn't it great!

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  5. We had one of those that we would use to demo software at customer sites. Carrying it was easy. Carrying a terminal to hook to it was a bit of a pain.

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  6. yes, worked on it once.
    slow as a punching machine - unusable.
    what a pitty, this could have been great!

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  7. Interesting find! Love to see a few articles about how it's running.

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  8. Back in the mid 90’s IBM was giving these bags away when I was in Rochester for some meeting with IBM. I was still using it before the pandemic, as I was going into the office then. A little flash down memory lane.

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  9. I had one of the original P01s and later a P02 for which we had a custom hard case created. I once took it on a tour of 8 west coast cities in 5 days. As noted earlier it was pretty slow - particularly to IPL. After a while you learned to run through your demo as soon as you got on location so that much of the software was in memory when you did the real demo!

    Although the P01 and P02 were intended as demo machines the motivation for the P03 was a bit different. It turned out there was a huge demand for these "baby" machines in Italy as replacements for aging S/36 machines and as a way for Italian BPs to compete with small networked PC systems. P01 and P02 weren't quite big enough to handle expanding needs so the extra capacity P03 was built - I think it basically filled the gap until the 150 came out.

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  10. We had a few of these and I traveled across the US and Europe with one a few times in that pre-internet era. Sometimes airport security folks asked questions or wanted to see it "booted up" which of course wasn't practical. I never got held up though. One funny problem when using these at customer sites was because of the small size people thought they could treat it like a PC. Some didn't understand it needed 15-20 minutes to IPL and also that simply pulling the plug without a proper shut down could make for an even longer IPL next time.

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  11. Wasn't there an IBMer named Ray Roman who worked on that box? I remember someone demoing one of those at a BOF at COMMON in the 90s.

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  12. I worked with this baby AS/400 since 1997 to 2000, for investigation, support, and application demo (we had there ASC, Implementer, Synon 2E and Obsydian, Navigator, and many other). It was the firt time I executed a full IPL, applied fixes to OS/400, and the only occasion I was security officer and admin. We carried it to several customer locations and business conferences.

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  13. What a Beauty! It's the first time I find a System cute. Thank for sharing this piece of history!

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  14. I remember packing a P1 around in the 90s when I worked for a small software provider. I took it into Winnipeg once. I had a demo in Texas where the last leg of the journey was on a small prop-plane! What an adventure.

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  15. They sold 3 Pieces last month here in Germany.

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  16. I did marketing for BOS (Better On-line Solutions) The case actually held a 15" think pad in addition to the P03. The Think Pad was connected to the P03 with a PCMCIA emulation card and a Twin-Ax cable. That was the console. The combination would actually fit in the overhead bin of a commercial airplane. We went many miles together!

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