HelpSystems Blog

Looking Back on 25 Years of the IBM i

Looking back over the last 25 years, I have to think, where have they gone?  When the IBM i was released, where was I working, what was I doing and have things really changed that much?  Well they have, let’s see if I can remind you how things were in the IT world 25 years ago.

I remember in the good old days of 1988 many things, such as:

  • Turning the alarm up to really loud on the System 38 and AS/400 so that when I did system upgrades I could sleep in my sleeping bag on the computer room floor and be woken by the alarm when I needed to change the diskettes or tapes!  I did not have a good night sleep for years!
  • IPl- ing or switching it off at 19:00pm and on again at 07:00am because that’s the only times we needed the computer on in those days, unlike today – 24/7/365. We had it easy!
  • Looking like the ‘Michelin Man’ as I loaded my arms with all the tapes needed to do the weekly backups
  • The SCREECH of the 3370 disk drives as I powered them on and off every day
  • The IBM engineers who carried spares in their cars and were more like car mechanics working under the hood of a HUGE computer
  • Hiding my shopping/shoes/coats inside the payroll printers – as they were so large
  • The 8 inch diskettes required to do a main storage dump to send to IBM for diagnosis
  • Finding out what was wrong by looking at a sequence of lights that gave you a hexadecimal code that you then looked up in one of the IBM reference guides – that you stored in 6ft tall carousels

My first job was a Trainee Operator at Sodastream, a UK soft drink company.  My responsibilities were:

  • Printing out picking lists, despatch notes
  • Ensuring all the backups ran
  • Month end processing with the developers

The Data Processing Manager at Sodastream was a woman, ex-army who knew what she wanted.  She was driven and did not take any excuse for jobs not getting done!  She taught me a thing or two. Little did I know then that she would start her own business and I would be working for her again some years later, as she is the founder and Managing Director of Halcyon Software, Lorraine Cousins.  It is strange how things happen!

If you were to ask me what do I think of the IBM i now, I would say, quite simply, it is an amazing piece of kit.  In my opinion, it is still one of the most reliable systems in the world and was in danger of becoming a bit “long in the tooth” BUT now that it genuinely supports multiple platforms and can be partitioned correctly, means it is here to stay.  It has also improved with age, unlike most things, as it is now sleek and black and blends in more to its environment.  It is more mainstream in a data centre than say 10 years ago when it stood out and was quite ugly!

I would just like to say to IBM i and our IBM i community, let’s keep on developing new products and pushing the technology to get the most from it.  Happy 25th birthday IBM i.

The actual launch took place on June 21, 1988. The IBM i user community truly enjoys sharing with fellow IBMers how great this technology is.