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Corestore Collection - IBM System/32 5320

Serial number 9150708

This machine was, presumably, as was often the case, leased: the tag next to the serial number proclaims it to be IBM property.

The System/32, model number 5320 in the IBM scheme of things, was a 1975 followup to the original System/3... seems to have fallen into a black hole in computer history; I'm not aware of anyone else having one in their collection, and there's virtually nothing on the web about them. If there are any other System/32 owners out there, please get in touch!

This chart I found in my Netscape cache (!) illustrates where the System/32 fits into the scheme of things:

5th April 2004... I've finally got hold of the System/32... drove to St. Catherines, Ontario, to retrieve it from the garage it had been stored in.

Since it spent the last 15 years in a not-very-dry garage; there's considerable corrosion and I have doubts as to whether it's restorable. The chap who had it actually had two of them initially; he had one working in his basement. Then that blew up (hard disk, I think he said...), and things languished. After some time, the 'basement' machine was scrapped - cut-up whilst in the basement to make it easier to move. Many parts were saved, including the suspect hard disk, and the printer assembly. Unfortunately some parts were lost; there were at one time two multi-level power supplies, neither can presently be found. All thr bits, and the 'spare' machine, then spent at least ten years stuck in the corner of a garage, which did them no good whatever. Ah well... I suppose I should just be glad it survived in any condition! See for yourself; click on any image to see the full-size version:

It was delivered new in April 1976 - was 25 years old this week!.

The 'bionic desk'.
The first obvious thing that's missing... the mirror/cover assembly for the CRT (which is mounted vertically in that hole in the top of the 'desk').

From the other side... not sure if we have the cover panel for the power supply area... (beneath the printer).

Closeup of the nameplate and Start/Stop/Load/On-Off buttons.

Inside the rear left side of the 'desk' - backplanes and logic cards.
Yes, there are a lot of empty slots.
Yes, I have the manuals.
Yes, there is a box of loose cards.
No, I'm by no means sure all the missing cards are in it!

The other side of the backplanes.

Front left side - rear of backplanes and angled 8" floppy.

Above the floppy bay, behind a panel, is the engineer ('CE') panel - allows setting of IMPL/IPL device, hardware debugging options etc.
Not exactly blinkenlights, but as close as you get on these things.

Inside... to the left, the upward-facing CRT is in the silver box. Behind it, the floppy drive.
To the left, the mounting frame for the hard disk, card cage behind.
The CRT yoke is hanging loose, for reasons unknown. Should be fixable.
The other big problem in this area was possums!

The hard drive chassis - motor still attached. HDA is elsewhere, in a box, together with a spare.
Much corrosion evident in the metalwork of the machine.
At least one of the disks is reported to have crashed...

Moving left, the power supply - from the rear. Transformer on the bottom left.
The leftmost silver cube, according to the manual, contains the 'AC Board'.
The rightmost cube is the 'dual level power supply'
The empty area at the top with all the loose wires is where the missing 'multilevel power supply' should be.

Same area from the front. Another part of the power supply, which is missing - hopefully in the box of loose cards - is the logic board.
Interesting piece of kit; it contains latches which preserve the state of the power supply at power-down: the purpose being to enable a field engineer to determine exactly what power fault caused the machine to trip.

The power requirements are not too excessive:

There are a few spares with the system - a spare keyboard...

...and a hard disk, amongst others.

Most importantly, a full set of manuals - customer, troubleshooting, repair, logic, etc. etc...

...and even more importantly, a *lot* of disks - around 100 at a quick count. 90% of them are data, and quite a few of the remainder are 3741 Data Entry Station 'menu' disks, but there are disks marked 'SCP Backup' - which could prove critical. Think I'll send them to Al Kossow for reading...

In summary, I've never seen a machine that looks more of a basket case. But I feel it's not without hope.
The floppy drive looks not too dreadful, and was used in other IBM machines, so a replacement may be found.
The backplane likewise isn't too bad, and the logic cards.
Hopefully I can scrounge any missing cards.
The wiring looks reasonable, and I have two keyboards to make one good one from.
One of the CRTs is intact.
I have very complete manuals (inc. engineers & logic manuals), and a large pile of floppies.

Since it's possible to IMPL and IPL from floppy, we *might*, with a great deal of help from the Goddess, one day get an SCP prompt on the CRT.

On the downside...
The printers look bad - they may be beyond salvation. OK; the system can IPL without printer and hard disk.
Part of the power supply is missing... OK a power supply can be jury-rigged; non-original but if it works...
All the metalwork will obviously require a complete strip, clean, sandblasting, de-rusting, and painting.

Needless to say, anyone who has a System/32, or has parts for one, or anything relating to System/32, *please* get in touch!

This old picture shows what it *should* look like: Keyboard and printer on the right, floppy disk in the 'desk' to the left, and a small display - 6 lines of 40 characters! - set into the top of the desk.

There's almost nothing about this machine on the web. is a link to a usenet post on Google which gives a fair bit of information about the machine is an excellent Italian page on the restoration of an IBM 3741 Data Station, a machine with several similarities to the S/32.