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Corestore Collection - IBM System/36 5360

Well I finally got around to finding a 5360 for the collection...

Serial number 1017462

This machine was owned and run for many years by the National Manufacturing Co. of Chatham, NJ. I collected it from there on 27th October 2005.

The original and largest System/36, model number 5360 in the IBM scheme of things, was a 1983 followup to the earlier System/34, with which it was largely compatible.

This chart I found in my Netscape cache (!) illustrates where the System/36 fits into the scheme of things:

The system had been sitting abandoned in the office for at least a couple of years... there was just the system unit, it seems they had got rid of all paperwork, manuals, terminals, - everything. They had even lost the key for the console switch - which fortunately was in the 'service' position. The only thing that came with it was a dead UPS - which I explained was nothing to do with the 5360!

The owner had asked me to possibly retrieve data from the system, if this was impossible or too much trouble the data was to be purged. Just out of curiosity I dragged a Twinax terminal along with me when I went to pick up the unit... we powered it up no problem at all, except for a very noisy fan - needs oil. Couldn't get a console display however, and saw the 'console check' light at least once - figured (correctly) that dodgy cables were the problem. Nice to see it come up anyway!

Powered-up but nothing on the console :-(

Almost enough blinkenlights - this is what the front panel looks like with 'lamp test' pressed :-)

Back home in the Corestore Reception Facility (my garage) - power on, doors open, cabling sorted, hit the 'load' button - we have a login screen!. Hopefully the previous owners will come up with a password for the MASTER account - failing that, I know the technique the IBM folks used to use to crack a forgotten password :-)

Time to take a tour of the box. Front is fairly featureless, left side panel had the EPO switch. Top right is the front panel, top left is the floppy drive...

Not much on the back either - just the I/O panel where the terminals and printers are hooked-up using Twinax cables.

Back round the front - the left bay is the power supply...

...the right bay is the logic gate. Note only three of the bays are used - the bottom bay has had airflow covers improvised from cardboard! Not original IBM I trust...

Covers open - top bay is fairly full, middle bay almost empty - there really isn't all that much to the CPU. There's about as many square inches of circuit board in a pdp-8/e, for instance. In a slightly smaller box...! Quite a lot of room for expansion - more terminals presumably, telecoms stuff, even (I think) a Token Ring network card was a rare option. SNA-only of course; no trace of TCP/IP. This IS IBM we're talking about...!

Closeup of the top logic bay - many of the cards are joined by top connectors as well as the backplane - again oddly reminiscent of the Omnibus pdp-8

Shows how the logic gate folds out - just a blank divider panel behind it. Only two backplanes installed, the bottom bay empty. Fans have been removed from the bottom of the gate for service.

Closeup of the front panel - hex displays and indicator lights. Used in conjunction with the console terminal - e.g. select mode to look at or modify data on the panel, then use the console terminal to carry out the actual operation.

The floppy drive, with the cover open. Uses standard 8" disks, but takes them in autoloading cartridges of 10! Makes backups easier I guess...

Opening up the back - disk drives on the left, I/O panels and main CB on the right.

Disks swing out of the chassis for service - typical IBM well thought-out engineering.

Finally, the left end panel also opens up, revealing more of the power supply, and the fuses. Complete with a very helpful summary schematic pasted on the chassis!

The system is pretty clean - a little dusting only required - and seems to be in good operational condition, apart from the fan that needs lube/overhaul. Certainly it comes up to a login screen without any problems.

So far I seem to be almost uniquely foolish in having one of these in my collection; the RICM have one, but they don't talk about it... haven't found anyone else on the web who will even own up to having one!