Questions tagged [ibm]

For questions regarding the products of IBM, International Business Machines.

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What's the story behind IBM's SKU numbers?

Big Blue IBM seemingly since forever is using a fixed numbering scheme for all their parts, where every little thing, dingus and gizmo is labeled with the so-called IBM SKU#. It's always in the form: ...
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5 votes
2 answers
295 views

Which keyboard replaced the IBM Model M?

Setting aside the fact that the Model M keyboard is still made by Unicomp, which keyboard did IBM market as the successor to their Model M (aka "Enhanced") keyboard? My understanding is that ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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How can I resolve these intermittent memory issues?

I own a 1999 IBM Personal Computer 300GL (Type 6275-90U). It's a Slot 1 Pentium III, Intel 440BX chipset, with a riser board for adding PCI and ISA cards and 3 PC100 DIMM memory sockets. About 50% of ...
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7 votes
1 answer
397 views

Why did IBM skip "System/380" as a mainframe family name?

I've been reading Exhibit 14971 from US vs. IBM (Parts 1, 2, 3) which seems to give a very good overview of the history of the computer industry up to 1980, particularly the way IBM handled its ...
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6 votes
3 answers
379 views

How did reserve tracks work on early hard disks?

The Wikipedia article History of IBM magnetic disk drives describes the details of the IBM 2311 device, introduced in 1964, as The 2311 stores 7.25 megabytes on a single removable IBM 1316 disk pack. ...
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8 votes
0 answers
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What did the Big Red Button actually do on the IBM 4341?

Wiktionary explains the origin of the term molly guard: Originally a Plexiglas cover improvised for the Big Red Switch on an IBM 4341 mainframe after a programmer's toddler daughter (named Molly) ...
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9 votes
2 answers
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What was the use case for the 96-column punch cards introduced with the IBM System/3?

Shown here at the Computer History Museum site (*) Not sure when they were introduced but it was before optical scanning (barcodes) was possible / affordable, maybe even before magnetic stripe ...
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10 votes
2 answers
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Why did IBM want to keep ICL alive?

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Computers_Limited International Computers Limited (ICL) was a British computer hardware, computer software and computer services company that ...
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9 votes
2 answers
493 views

Cleaning buckling spring keyboards

How do you clean keyboards with buckling springs? I have mentioned in an earlier question that I've recently bought an IBM keyboard but how do you clean a keyboard with buckling springs? I only know ...
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3 votes
1 answer
280 views

Unicomp's IBM model keyboards

I've recently purchased the Spacesaver M Black Buckling Spring USB keyboard (still didn't get it due to shipping delays) and was wondering whether anyone has a real original IBM keyboard. What is so ...
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10 votes
1 answer
317 views

What sort of intermediate representation did the first Fortran compiler use?

Proebsting's Law asserts that improvements to compiler technology double the performance of typical programs every 18 years, but even granted that this is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, it's not really ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Is this keyboard a clone of IBM Model M?

I have this old Quest keyboard: And I was wondering whether IBM did allow rebranding of their keyboard technology. Physically it seems similar-looking to IBM Model M. Is that a typical el-cheapo ...
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5 votes
3 answers
591 views

Was there an analog of local labels in the IBM assembly language?

In the assembly language used in Unix on DEC machines (PDP-11, VAX), one can use numerical labels and refer to them with suffixes "b" and "f" meaning "backwards" and &...
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15 votes
0 answers
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Uninstalling OS/400 by deleting one program

This is about the AS/400 which is an IBM mini-computer launched in 1988. It lives on today after several name changes and considerable hardware and software changes. It is still often informally ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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Did other computer companies need to license Fortran from IBM?

Reading a fascinating online book about the history of computing, I came across this passage on http://ds-wordpress.haverford.edu/bitbybit/bit-by-bit-contents/chapter-seven/7-5-assembly-language-...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Why have both the ORG and LOC pseudo-operations in the SHARE/Symbolic/Fortran Assembly Programs for the IBM 704/709/7090/7094?

This is a fairly basic question, and I almost feel ashamed to ask it; I'm guessing it can be answered in a single sentence. There was a rather influential series of assemblers for some of IBM's ...
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26 votes
1 answer
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Why was IBM's Scientific Subroutine Package superseded?

It is a familiar fact that scientific software tends to do a lot of vector arithmetic and similar, that one does not want to keep rewriting the low-level code for such, so the usual practice is to use ...
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4 votes
0 answers
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What keyboard protocol do IBM 3151 Terminals speak over RJ45

I've recently acquired an IBM 3151 Terminal without keyboard and I'm not willing to spend any money on an original keyboard. This is why I've tried searching Google for any datasheets of the IBM RJ45 ...
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0 votes
2 answers
254 views

How to decode hexadecimal number in IBM/360 column binary format

I have a message: x2400\x1100\x2001\x1020\x2100\x0900\x2008\x2012\x0900\x1001\x2001\x1010\x2001\x0900\x0802\x0812\x1200\x2010\x0802\x1004\x0820\x1010\x2100\x2002\x1012 It's in IBM column binary ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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What programming languages were most commonly used on the AS/400 in the 90s?

The IBM AS/400, formerly known as System/38, subsequently known as i (sic), is remarkable in being essentially the most future-proof of all the minicomputers, thanks among other things to the use of ...
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17 votes
1 answer
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How did SABRE work interactively without screens?

The SABRE airline reservation system went online in 1964, astonishing the world by being among other things the first large-scale interactive computing system. Once the IBM 3270 video terminals were ...
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1 vote
1 answer
289 views

Why did IBM decide to use 8 bits for EBCDIC?

Why did IBM decide to use 8 bits for EBCDIC? 7 bits per character seems reasonable, since 2^7 = 128 symbols which is enough for all English letters and special symbols.
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4 votes
4 answers
1k views

IBM vs DEC and business partners

A Quora question Why did Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) fail? has gathered some really interesting answers, including from former DEC people. There is one such answer I do not quite understand: ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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Record definitions with IBM COBOL and IMS

A common technology stack for line of business applications in the sixties and seventies was IBM COBOL with the IMS database. I'm curious about how the combination handled record definitions. COBOL ...
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3 votes
1 answer
264 views

Can I restore an S/38 program to a current IBM i?

The IBM System/38 or just S/38 was an IBM mini-computer launched in 1978. I don't know when IBM stopped marketing it but their AS/400 was released in 1988 and it was very easy to switch from the S/38 ...
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20 votes
17 answers
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Were any IBM mainframes ever run multiuser?

Now of course there is a sense in which they were – some mainframe installations supported thousands of users! But there is a distinction. Consider the familiar fixture in so many 80s computer science ...
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5 votes
3 answers
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How was it possible to run IBM mainframe software in emulation on HP?

... At least, without getting sued into the ground? According to one of the answers to What was the most critical supporting software for COBOL on IBM mainframes? We installed a new HP replacing an ...
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21 votes
7 answers
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What was the most critical supporting software for COBOL on IBM mainframes?

Over the past half-century, one of the largest trends in the computer industry has been the replacement of mainframes by microcomputers. Not total by any means – there are still many mainframes in ...
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19 votes
1 answer
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What is the function of this strange IBM apparatus?

Does anyone know what kind of device this is? I found it in my late dad's stuff, probably from the 1970s. It has no number, type, model, serial number or anything else on it that could be used for ...
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2 votes
2 answers
169 views

How plausible is this data corruption on an IBM 9-track tape?

Preamble For a while, I had a copy of a BESM-6 Pascal compiler which worked only on very simple programs, like "Hello, world", and would throw a division by 0 exception on anything more ...
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6 votes
2 answers
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What specific factor(s) made Thomas Watson, Jr. (of IBM) so enthusiastic about early electronics?

One of my favourite computer history books is Stan Augarten's "Bit by Bit", which has an author-approved scanned copy at http://ds-wordpress.haverford.edu/bitbybit/ In it, the author makes ...
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10 votes
5 answers
6k views

How much data could be stored on a single punched card?

I was looking at this IBM webpage on the history of floppy disks and it says the original 8-inch floppy disk from 1971 could store 80 KB of data, equivalent to that of 3000 punched cards. So, based on ...
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8 votes
1 answer
349 views

What is the purpose of the "difference of absolute values" instruction?

The IBM NORC computer, among others, had an arithmetic instruction computing the difference of the absolute values of its operands (|x|-|y|, see NORC Programming Manual, page 11, opcode 28), which ...
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10 votes
3 answers
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How can I boot or extract files from an IBM PS/1 with a DoubleSpace-compressed hard drive?

I’m trying to boot an old IBM PS/1, mostly with the intention to read out its hard disk. I realized quickly that the original floppy disk drive was broken, so I replaced it with a Gotek floppy ...
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11 votes
2 answers
868 views

What year was my old, long-lost IBM PC born? And which form factor/model was it?

I've spent a ridiculous amount of time and effort over the years just trying to figure out what exact IBM product I grew up with. At last, I've finally established for 100% certain that it was a: IBM ...
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3 votes
0 answers
192 views

Why was the IBM 7070 unsuccessful?

In a talk on the IBM 360 and the computers it replaced the speaker at 39:35 describes the 7070 as 'a dog', and elsewhere contrasts it unfavorably with the 1401 (which considerably exceeded ...
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11 votes
4 answers
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Were round punchcard holes mechanically stiffer?

The most common punch card format was the IBM 80 column by 12 row, with narrow rectangular holes. However, there were other possibilities, such as a later IBM format that used round holes. That one ...
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33 votes
9 answers
10k views

What did code on punch cards do with the other six bits per column?

In the fifties and sixties, program source code was typically stored on punch cards, one card per line. The most common card format was the IBM 80 column by 12 row. For source code, this was commonly ...
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3 votes
1 answer
384 views

Best way to swap IBM PC case badge?

A while back, I purchased an original IBM PC (5150). The seller had an improper top case or badge on it, as the badge actually said it was an XT (5160) instead. After confirming that it is indeed a ...
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5 votes
3 answers
375 views

Was this FORTRAN "extension" originated by IBM?

This question has been prompted by a recent question about the assigned GOTO operator. It appears that some early FORTRAN implementations supported a non-obvious construct: using an indexed variable ...
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13 votes
5 answers
3k views

When did IBM start to use ASCII?

I’m trying to figure out when IBM switched to ASCII and when ASCII became a worldwide standard. Moreover, did IBM make ASCII standard worldwide? What I have found: According to Wikipedia, IBM System /...
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2 votes
3 answers
364 views

Why did IBM System 360 have byte addressable RAM

According to wiki IBM System 360 had byte addressable RAM. Previously IBM had machine with word addressable memory. Did they make a switch for comparability between different machines? Or it was just ...
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5 votes
3 answers
1k views

Why did IBM System /360 have byte addressable RAM, but didn't have 8 bits registers

According to wiki IBM System /360 had only 32 and 64-bits registers for data. I'm wondering if they used 8-bits symbol it means that they stored it in a 32-bits register. Did they have any performance ...
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6 votes
2 answers
306 views

Why was the maximum byte size of 8 bits on IBM 7030?

As far as I know, IBM 7030 used term byte. But this byte was just an imaginary term to make easier for our brain to work with bits. So it had nothing in common with a physical realization of the CPU. ...
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3 votes
2 answers
895 views

Why did IBM 7030 or IBM 360 use byte and word addressing simultaneously

In 1950s machines had a 36 bit words. And in this word we could pack symbols using 6 bits. And to fetch this symbols from the word programmer should do it using bit manipulations. In 1961 IBM released ...
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19 votes
1 answer
601 views

Was the IBM S/360 Responsible for Popularizating the 'A'-to-'F' Notation in Hexadecimal Numbers?

In the early history of computing before the mid-1960s, there wasn't an universal, de-facto standard for the written representation of a hexadecimal number, different computer systems used their own ...
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20 votes
1 answer
415 views

Is the "IBM standard character set manual" around?

From Wikipedia's code page article: Originally, the code page numbers referred to the page numbers in the IBM standard character set manual Is any version of this publication available? I'd be ...
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12 votes
1 answer
565 views

Why did IBM develop 5250 block mode terminals when 3270 already existed?

IBM introduced the 3270 family of block mode terminals in 1971, for use with IBM mainframes (System/370 and successors). Then, in 1977, IBM introduced the 5250 family of block mode terminals for use ...
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8 votes
2 answers
944 views

When was DEFUN added to Lisp?

I don't see DEFUN in a ~1966 copy of PDP-6 LISP. I do see it in a 1972 Maclisp. AI memo 116A from 1967 doesn't have DEFUN. (It does have MACRO.)
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1 vote
0 answers
65 views

Thinkpad 380E keeps shutting down randomly [closed]

Recently, I got a 380E from ebay. Seller says that it has boot error and not working, but the error was typical 161/163. I've replaced nee BIOS battery, and error was gone. After that, I formatted ...
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