Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What Originally Drew People to the IBM Midrange Platform, and What Will it Take To Do That Again?

As I spend my normal 20 minutes after a busy day looking through Linked In posts and comments that LI thinks I'm interested in, I see a lot of the same thing.

Bickering.  Fighting.  Self-Righteousness.

So, I thought I'd spend just a few more minutes penning a blog entry.

When my career first started, I was lucky enough to get an internship at a local Clinic in which they used the AS/400 and RPG.  I believe they were on V2R3 as a matter of fact.

I really wanted the COBOL job, though.  But RPG was fate, I guess.

I fell in love with it.  Sure, it wasn't what I was used to having self-taught myself BASIC at the age of 8 or 9 on a TRS-80 Color Computer and then playing with languages such as Ada, Modula-II, C, etc in college.  What was this RPG?  Assembler Code?

But, once applied to real world situations I saw the genius behind it.  It actually got things done.  I quickly became comfortable with what really was nothing more than another syntax to learn.

I remember back in the days of News400 and Midrange Computing magazines (of which I was lucky enough to be allowed to write for!). People were excited to be on the platform.  We were excited in sharing our accomplishments, and we were excited to wait for the next issue when we were again given tips to help us in our everyday job.

We all got along.  We defended our platform with every last breath.

Then came the first name change.  Then another.  Then another.

It was with these name changes that I started to hear inklings of "The AS/400 is dead" or "RPG is dead".

Yes, maybe the name "AS/400" was dead in the eyes of IBM.  But not to those of us who love the platform for what it is, not what it's called.

I try very hard to always call it the IBM i (or the current name).  But that is just nomenclature.

Just like we Americans call tissues "Kleenex", this wonderful midrange machine and operating system that seemed like it could do it all was forever branded an AS/400, or at least until the die hard platform lovers are no longer in the picture.

Maybe 30 years from now we will only hear wild tales of this so called AS/400 that actually allowed work to get done.  Back before the internet.  Back before Facebook, Twitter and Linked In.  Back when real work was done.

But to he point...

What made the machine popular?  How did IBM sell those first few machines, and how did it catch on?

Instead of scaring others away with the bickering, lets try and remember why we love the machine like we do, and find out what made it great in the first place.

But, judging from the comments on this site, it appears things haven't really changed for over 11 years.