Large collection of harddiscs added

Today I visited somebody way up in the northern part of the country. And, although the Netherlands is a relatively small country, it still took me a couple of hours to get there (which is pretty unusual here).

I was greeted by a nice man who had salvaged a large collection of discs from an AS/400 storage unit. This means that I now have added 44 spare drives in all sizes to the collection.

So, for the foreseeable future I have enough spare drives!

Twinax 5250 interface board


Maybe you’re one of those people who is not afraid to use a soldering iron. And maybe you just have to have an old 5250 terminal laying around. Where the keys go clicke-ty-click. And you would love to hook this terminal up to, let’s say, a Linux box, or a raspberry pi?

Than it’s good to know that someone has already done the hard work for you. GitHub user Inmbolmie has designed a board that allows a twinax terminal to connect over UBS.

Well now, isn’t that nice! All the info can be found at this url.


Two new additions, a lot of books and a very nice email


Just to give you all a small update.

Last weekend I was able to acquire two nice AS/400 systems. Both look like the one in this picture:


Very nice systems indeed. They are AS/400 systems 9406, model 170. They used to belong to a life-time Cobol and RPG programmer. There is a very sad story behind the fact that these systems became available, but I like to leave it at that here. Together with these systems there was also a wealth of books available. Most of them about the AS/400, but also a few about MVS and Z/OS. Books that to me are valuable for the history they tell, but would not fetch much on today’s second hand market. So it turned out to be a very nice trip and I met a couple of very nice people on the way.

And at the end of the same weekend I received a very nice email:

Hello Jeroen,

we met at the Vintage Computer Festival 2019 in Berlin. You demonstrated me your AS/400 and I was really impressed by this strange but interesting system.

And this was the impact on me:
Now I own not one but two 9401-150! The first one I bought some weeks ago and i tried to get familiar with OS/400 V4R5. After the first hard steps I get used of this (more or less, still learning). The second machine I bought in defect condition for spares for 70€. But after replacing a capacitor in the power supply it works without problems.

So I have to thank you for getting me into the AS/400 world.

Best regards,

I love to receive this kind of news. It shows that my efforts have an impact and I was able to inspire somebody to join me in preserving a part of computing history. Excellent!

Working on a lot of systems

On October 25 I got a visit from a friend who has been working on AS/400’s and all subsequent models since 1987. We worked on a lot of my systems:

  • We got on of my HMC’s booted up and were able to login.
  • We connected one of the 520’s (8203-e4a) and got the HMC interface working. 1 CPU, 8 GB, No micro-partitioning, iOS capable, Not VIOS capable. Unfortunately we could not find the ASMI password for admin.
  • We connected the second 520. This one I bought at an auction for € 28,31. We got the HMC interface working. The former client was very successful in making the device unbootable. Still, it has 1 CPU, 8 GB and is capable of VIOS and micro-partitioning.
  • We also got one of the P5’s (9133-55a) working. 4 CPU!, 24 GB! We got HMC access but not ASMI. Can be a nice AIX box (If I ever get AIX somewhere) or Linux box.
  • The other P5 was really stripped. We couldn’t get HMC access and decided to simply put it in storage.

Then we went on to my older systems:

  • The model 400 has one of the discs failing. I learned the disc head has a rubber stop at the parking position that, over time, becomes sticky. This I can fix later, make a tape backup of the running system and then fix the drive. This is one more reason why I want to build a small dust-free enclosure so I can safely open a hard-disc and fix them.
  • My model 800 has received it’s first drive. It did cost me some €180 to get 139 Gb iSeries drive shipped from the US but at least it’s got a drive now. It should be capable of running V5r2 onwards so maybe I will install OS/400 some days prior to one of the exibitions I go to. It does have TwinAx and Ethernet connectionsso that is nice.
  • My model 150 is now the easiest one to take with me to exhibitions. Last exhibition I had some Twinax trouble so I have to check my cabling before I leave for another one (exhibition that is). I do have to find the procedure to change the primary language from fr to us but that too can way a bit.
  • My model 300 is too big at the moment for me to transport from storage to my home to see what it can do. For now it can rest in storage until I can transport it. It would also make a very good system for exhibitions. Maybe, some day.

All in all a very fun day with lot’s of stuff learned.

A new (big!) system

Some time ago, a friend of mine named Kris Buytaert (of devops fame) asked me if I was interested in an old and somewhat big AS/400. And, guess what, I was! Just last Saturday I took our van and went for a drive to the region of Antwerp. There, in a cellar, stood this big old machine. The only challenge was, there was a short flight of stairs we should go up with this system. And men, let me tell you, it was maybe all in all 5 or 6 steps, but the system was quite heavy. Finally we found a piece of wooden board so we could improvise a ramp of sorts.

Together with a lot of moaning and sweat we managed to get the system back to ground level. From there it was easy since there were wheels underneath the system.

So, here we are, wit a very nice big old AS/400 that we can start showing of at exhibitions. I didn’t have time yet to gather some specs about it. That has to wait until after the summer holidays.

Signing off, one very happy (new) owner.

A new system

Currently we are on a roll! We have 3 new additions to look forward to. The first one is this AS/400 system. It used to be from a company (of course) and because they are really careful with their data I got the system without hard-discs, but thankfully enough with the hard-disc bays to mount them in.

And there is more to come! I recently did a bid in an auction on an IBM 520. And, thankfully, nobody else was interested in some other old xseries 19″ server. But it was the small sticker on the front saying “HMC” that ticket me off. Hopefully the drive hasn’t been wiped. We’ll see!

But the fun isn’t over yet! In July I will drive to Belgium to pick up some old and sizeable server. No more specs available at this time. But we’ll see!