Happy 30th Anniversary, IBM i!

Celebrating IBM i Today

IBM i 30

For many in the world of technology, IBM’s unveiling of the AS/400 on June 21, 1988 was the start of something truly special. This platform was revolutionary in concept because it was a true enabler for small and midsized businesses. In fact, it launched with 2,500 available business applications—a first in the industry.

Celebrating IBM i Today

Fast forward 30 years and the industry is celebrating the descendent of the AS/400, the operating system we now know as IBM i. It’s used in 117 countries and has the backing of a large, powerful community of technologists and corporations. These visionaries champion the future of this platform as it evolves to incorporate technologies such as mobile devices and AI, keeping it ever-relevant in today’s IT infrastructures.

Like any modern celebration, there’s a lot of reminiscing going on (check out #IBMi30 on Twitter), with pictures and stories about what IT and the AS/400 looked like 30 years ago. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to see how the AS/400 evolved into the IBM Power Systems server (now on POWER9) running IBM i as we know it today.

What’s in a Name?

Over the years, this IBM platform migrated its name in tandem with advances in hardware, processors, and operating systems. Here are some key highlights:

  • Silver Lake: As a large-scale IBM project, the AS/400 system was codenamed “Silver Lake” to pay homage to a body of water near the development site in Rochester, Minnesota. As AS/400 Chief Architect Frank Soltis says in the video below, the project’s goal was to bring the well-liked System/36 and System/38 into a single entity.
  • AS/400: The platform officially launched in 1988 as the IBM Application System/400 (AS/400) running the OS/400 operating system. It became a highly popular family of computers for small and midsized companies, offering multiple processor levels, impressive memory and storage, and technical support. This product line was continually enhanced over the next 12 years, adding power and performance.
  • eServer iSeries: In 2000, IBM rebranded the AS/400 as the eServer iSeries, featuring a new level of reliability and scalability as well as support for the open standards needed for large-scale application development. The ‘i’ stood for ‘integrated,’ a key solution value proposition for the hardware and the i5/OS that paired with it alongside the POWER5 processor in 2004.
  • System i: Not to rest on its laurels, IBM changed the name once again to System i in 2006.
  • Power Systems (POWER9) running the IBM i OS: The Power Systems line of hardware was introduced in 2008, and the operating system’s name change to IBM i came with it. Today, IBM’s POWER9 server can run not only IBM i, but Linux and AIX as well, giving businesses full flexibility for supporting their ever-changing requirements.

Video #1

IBM challenges what IBM i means in this 30th anniversary video.

“IBM i has support from hundreds of ISVs and thousands of applications. And the best part is, we’re just getting started.”
—Liam Allan, IBM Champion and Fresh Face

Video #2

Here’s a look back at the 25th anniversary video celebrating IBM i.

“Technology should not dictate that a business has to change the way they do business.”
—Steve Will, IBM i Chief Architect

The Future of IBM i Is Bright

The Future of IBM i Is Bright

The HelpSystems team is joining in the 30th anniversary celebration. Below are some thoughts on where IBM i is headed from the folks who know it best.


"Dear IBM i, Happy anniversary from one of your IBM Power Champions. You have stood the test of time, outlasted many competing technologies, exceeded reliability and scalability scales; and yet your future is bright as you share the POWER9 processors with AIX and Linux. For those that believe in IBM i, you understand the value of total cost of ownership and have received this benefit over the decades of ownership. Cheers to the future: May your chassis be filled with more GPU POWER9 processors, your in-memory capabilities expand to hundreds of terabytes, and storage beyond petaflops as you set the AI world in the right direction."

Tom Huntington, Executive VP of Technical Solutions and IBM Power Champion


"I speak with many, many companies who have all their business logic for ERP, warehouse, shipping, and so forth on IBM i. Many are working on modernization and most have a very small staff. IBM i makes this possible. They are also ramping up on-boarding young-gun programmers and cross-training other IT staff on the technology. What really excites me about the platform is that it’s still evolving, and the next generation is going to move it along. Congratulations to all those unsung heroes out there who are supporting or have supported this platform and its predecessors."

Chuck Losinski, Director of Technical Solutions


"Happy anniversary my old friend! Wow, how time flies! Thirty years spent embracing your unique, chameleon-like characteristics as you continuously and seamlessly adapt to integrate the latest technologies to keep yourself on the leading edge of the data center. You’ve progressed faster and further than most of us, and I’m so excited and relieved that people are finally looking to better utilize your incredibly robust security controls."

Robin Tatam, Director of Security Technologies


"Happy 30th anniversary, IBM i. Who knew we would be together for so long? Looking forward to 30 more years of innovation. I am very interested to see where the platform goes with all the open source and application connectivity happening. These are exciting times to work in technology with all the fun things happening in AI and automation."

Richard Schoen, Director of Document Management and Automation


"IBM i. Relevant for 30 years and counting! Rather than explore other platforms when new applications are being considered, it’s great to see people now ask themselves first, 'Can I run this on IBM i?'"

Ash Giddings, Product Manager


"Happy anniversary, IBM i! I hope you will continue to provide first-class computing for your users for many decades to come. For your future, I am looking forward to seeing your hardware complemented with new types of processors: FPGAs, AI chips, analog processors, and at some distant point, quantum processors, too."

Kurt Thomas, Senior Consultant


"Congratulations on the last 30 years. Here’s looking forward to the next 30. The name may have changed over the years, but the platform remains as strong as ever."

Paul Ratchford, Principal Consultant


"To the most reliable and durable platform for businesses in the history of computers, I say, 'Happy Anniversary IBM i!' Here’s to many more years of power, growth, and expansion that will deliver organizations the strength to traverse the world economy of the future."

Mike Stegeman, Sr. Data Access Consultant


"IBM i: ¡Feliz Cumpleaños! Soy Amneris, de las oficinas de HelpSystems en Buenos Aires. ¡Me encanta trabajar con vos! Somos compañeros de trabajo desde hace muchos años – desde cuando eras un niño llamado AS/400, y quiero seguir trabajando con vos por siempre: Amo tu fortaleza. Amo tu seguridad. Disfruto de tu sistema operativo tan confiable. Sigamos así por muchos años más!"

Amneris Teruel, Sr. Technical Solutions Consultant

AS/400 to IBM i: And We’re Just Getting Started

Hear what Steve Will and Alison Butterill had to say about this momentous occasion when they joined Tom Huntington for a webinar celebrating innovation on IBM i.