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Serial number 21188
The System/38 was a mid-late '70s machine, actually predating the System/36. It's only distantly related to the other System/3x machines - but the AS/400 is virtually a System/38, updated with modern technology. The System/38 was way ahead of its time, an extremely advanced machine - an RDBMS integrated into an object-oriented OS, running on a single-level-storage machine, in 1978! In fact, the System/38 was the closest thing IBM actually sold to the 'FS' (Future System) project, which was intended to develop a followup to the S/360 & S/370, but became bogged-down, and eventually morphed into the S/38.
So the System/38 was nearly the System/380, and the AS/400 was nearly the System/40.
Got it? :-)
Click on any of my pics to see the high-resolution original.
This chart I found in my Netscape cache (!) illustrates where the System/38 fits into the scheme of things:
IBMs 'offical portrait' of a System/38 - printer to the left, MFCM card reader/punch to the right... I've never heard of an S/38 actually being hooked-up to one.
I'd been looking for a System/38 for some time, when one finally showed up on ebay - a recently-disused example from a textile manufacturing company in South Carolina - in 2003.
A deal was swiftly concluded, and it duly turned up on a large truck.
My S/38 as delivered... diskette magazine drive (magazine holds 20 8" diskettes) on the left. On the right, the bit that most people remember about the S/38: the operator screen and keyboard built into the system box itself.
Opening the front doors... power supply (3-phase!) on the left, logic bays on the right.
Closeup of the console with a modest number of switches and blinkenlights.
Opening up one of the logic bays... standard IBM-type boards & backplane construction...
This seems to be the CPU/memory section... CPU has standard square silver IBM chips, with little heatsinks... Look closely and you will see the memory boards are 3rd party: an early product of EMC˛...!
Inside the rear: power supply to the right, hard disks to the left, interfaces in the middle. The black panel with many round connectors is the Twinax hookup area.
Two Standard Bloody Big Old hard disks.
Power supply... and Twinax connectors.
Closeup of the serial number. Tag also proclaims this machine to be 'property of IBM' - presumably it was initially leased.
Behind the Twinax panel, the rest of the interface stuff - several big old IBM Bus & Tag channel connectors, same as System/370.
The interfaces hooked up to a more recent external expansion cabinet - a 9406, same as used with AS/400. Contains an 'XL/Datacomp 9637' disk system, and a Decision Data dual 8mm tape, channel-attached!
System came with a very full set of software, tapes, disks, and manuals - including the maintenance MAPs and MIMs.
The Decision Data 7400 Series tape drive (a rebadged Exabyte, also sold under the 'IPL 6800' and 6860 banners) is a vastly useful data exchange beast:
Two 8mm decks...
And on the rear, IBM Bus & Tag channel *AND* SCSI interfaces.
I'm not aware of any other System/38s in private hands. RICM allegedly has one, that's all I've heard about! Anyone who does have one, please get in touch!