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Corestore Collection - IBM System/34 5340

At last... a 5340, in good shape, up and running, one careful owner, and close enough to New York for the Corestore Rescue Squad (me in a hired truck) to go and collect it.

Serial number 1042796

This machine was owned and run from new in 1980 by (name of firm), a small business making parts for trailers, in rural Falls, PA. The principal operator of the system was well 'into' programming it, and did a lot of screen design work and custom RPG programming for the business. I collected it from there on 28th October 2005. By all accounts it had been an astonishingly reliable system. During the 25 years they used it, it has received regular PM, has had a part on one of the hard disks (operator thinks the anti-static spring that runs against the spindle) changed since it was a bit noisy,, and it's got through a few print heads. That's *it*. No other faults or problems.

The System/34, model number 5340 in the IBM scheme of things, was essentially the System/32 on steroids - it came out only a couple of years later, but was much more capable - introduced the whole concept of a multiuser terminal-oriented system to the IBM midrange line (which had started off batch processsing punched cards with the System/3, you may recall!).

This chart I found in my Netscape cache (!) illustrates where the System/34 fits into the scheme of things:

This is the picture that caught my eye on ebay :-)

No, the girl didn't come with the machine! Give an idea of scale tho - a serious bit of hardware.

Turned up with a big truck, we gave the system a quick spin to check it IPLed with no problems, before heaving it in the back of the truck and lashing it down - a process that was remarkable painless and curse-free.

Back home in the Corestore Reception Facility (my garage) - a quick tour of the machine. Front has a badge and the operator panel - 'power' and 'load' switches, some basic warning lights, and the floppy drive - an 8" device, identical to the System/32 floppy.

Closeup of the operator panel.

Opening the right-side panels, the CE panel is obvious, and again identical to the System/32 part. Below it is the power supply, the right-hand side is taken up by the logic gate.

Closeup of the power supply - some serious caps in there!

Closeup of one of the logic bays.

The logic gate swung out, reveals that there's a lot of unused space in the this machine - only half the frames are even populated with backplanes, and less than half the backplane slots intalled are used. Disk drives live behind logic gate.

Closeup of the CE panel with the machine running. Yes those lights are blinken! There's a short (35s, 3.2MB) video clip of the lights blinking during IPL - click here to download.

Looking now at the rear and left-side doors, pretty featureless except the EPO switch halfway down the side.

The rear door open - every single panel on this machine opens or detaches! - shows the end of the logic gate, and two disk drives.

Both left side doors open, two disk drives (very similar/identical to System/32 item) clearly visible (yes they were locked down for transit!)on the left, on the right everything is panelled over, but the Twinax terminal connectors are just visible in the middle.

Removing the panelling gives another view of the power supply and floppy drive.

Seeing as how this was the first Midrange IBM system to use terminals, they had to find a terminal. Did they use the coax-cabled screens talking 3270 protocol that already existed in huge numbers for IBM mainframes? Did they hell... for what ever reasons of corporate politics the Midrange people went their own way and designed a new protocol, the 5250, using a new cabling system - twinax instead of coax - and a new terminal, the 5251. This is one of these legendary beasts, hooked up to a 5340 running SSP. Yes, dragged it home, gave it a good cleaning/hoovering, and it worked perfectly! Thanks Larry and Tom!

The System/34 hasn't attracted a great deal of interest from the retrocomputing community... only a couple of people have been foolish enough to obtain one: is someone else with too much room in their garage... nice to have a forklift tho!
These Dutch people have one....
The guys are just heathens... grrrrrr
This crazy Spaniard has a system very similar to mine: - his website is AWOL tho :-(
Finally, proof that there are worse cases than me: David Beem has *four* of the bloody things!