Questions tagged [mainframe]

for questions about retrocomputing mainframes or clusters

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12
votes
2answers
763 views

IBM mainframe classic executable file formats

Most modern platforms have pretty well-defined file formats; e.g. Windows uses PE, Linux and BSD - ELF (previously a.out), macOS - Mach-O, AIX - XCOFF and so on. What were (are?) common executable ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the purpose of the yellow wired panels on the IBM 360 Model 20?

I just finished reading a story about an IBM 360 Model 20 rescue, and some of the pictures caught my eye. Specifically this one: Searching online, led me to several more pictures, all with ...
4
votes
2answers
318 views

Was sneakernet a job description?

'Sneakernet' is a colloquial term for moving data by walking back and forth with a removable digital medium such as a floppy disk or tape in your hand. In 'IBM's 360 and Early 370 Systems', page 533, ...
2
votes
3answers
399 views

History of advanced hardware [closed]

Like most people, I grew up in the 1980s, and bore whitness to the great 8-bit home computer revolution. From where I'm sitting, "computers" started with slow 8-bit machines just powerful enough to ...
55
votes
12answers
11k views

How big is a mainframe?

If you read about the history of computing, you'll hear how the first computers were "huge". You will often come across assertions that in the early days of commercial computing, a single computer ...
14
votes
3answers
527 views

Is there a line printer sound simulator?

To improve "authenticity" of a mainframe simulator and for an additional nostalgic effect, I'd like to add sounds of a line printer to it. They should be similar enough to the original sounds for ...
7
votes
3answers
645 views

Patent barriers to IBM mainframe compatibility?

'Blue Magic: The People, Power and Politics Behind the IBM Personal Computer' is an excellent book, but it makes one claim I cannot quite make sense of. Page 13 of the hardback edition says: "Lowe ...
1
vote
0answers
147 views

Are Unisys ClearPath Libra mainframes still in use in Australia?

By use, I mean are they still actively being developed for. I know this is the case in New Zealand and USA. In particular, is ALGOL code still being written on them?
6
votes
1answer
225 views

Total weight of the CDC 7600?

I'm doing some research on the CDC 7600 supercomputer. I'm trying to find at least a general guess on the overall weight of the machine, preferably including the necessary cooling equipment. I know it ...
26
votes
6answers
4k views

History behind the text column restriction

In the old days, I remember we were told to never go beyond the 70'th column in the text editor (the actual value was usually something above 70, but less than 80). Further, at least in the program I ...
5
votes
3answers
350 views

Connect IBM 3481 terminal to RS232?

I recently acquired an IBM 3481 terminal. It has a parallel port, a DB-15 port (I believe for a twinax-T connector), an 8P8C keyboard connector, and a PS/2 connector. Since I don't have a vintage IBM ...
7
votes
5answers
540 views

When did smart terminals arrive?

In the days of mainframes and minicomputers, a common user interface was a serial terminal where each keystroke was sent to the computer, which could respond with an update to the contents of the ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

Was there ever a genuine “mainframe-on-a-chip” microprocessor?

In the 1980s and 90s, there was a fad among the IT industry press to dub the newest "hot" microprocessor on the market as being a "mainframe-on-a-chip". I have seen this fawning description applied to ...
10
votes
1answer
447 views

What's the deal with System/360's “USASCII” mode?

The original System/360 architecture had a bit in the Program Status Word that would select an "USASCII" mode rather than the usual EBCDIC. Setting this bit changed how the BCD arithmetic operations ...
3
votes
1answer
293 views

Using audio tape recorders on non-personal computers?

A Soviet manual (1978) for an interactive integrated development system named ПУЛЬТ (translated as "console" or "[remote] control panel") developed for the BESM-6 mainframe contains a cryptic note: ...
29
votes
5answers
5k views

How was the C language ported to architectures with non-power-of-2 word sizes?

By the time the C language started to gain popularity outside of the PDP-11 circles (mid-1970s), mainframes with "weird" word sizes, and no capability to address individual bytes efficiently were ...
12
votes
3answers
565 views

Which programming systems used object files on punch cards?

In a batch programming system developed in the late 1960s - early 1970s at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in the city of Dubna near Moscow, it was possible to dump object files to punch ...
5
votes
1answer
353 views

When were floating point rounding modes first implemented?

It appears that at least some pre-IEEE 754 computers had only one hardwired floating point rounding mode, e.g. away from zero as in PDP-11 (page 154 of PDF). Which historical architectures were the ...
13
votes
2answers
476 views

Do any interesting POP-2 programs survive?

On a disk image (which I had for many years) from a BESM-6, I've suddenly found a working POP-2 (POPLAN) interpreter (for all these years I'd considered that area as useless bits and pieces of various ...
13
votes
1answer
503 views

What is the prototype of the Eastern Bloc videoterminal Videoton 340?

Several decades ago, the Hungarian company "Videoton" manufactured a videoterminal for which I couldn't find a Western prototype. It likely existed, as the device had been assigned a "ES" number, ...
9
votes
2answers
242 views

Information about Sabre-ADS Model 757 terminal

Someone on reddit acquired a Sabre-ADS terminal, Model 757. They were used for airline reservation and probably connected to an IBM mainframe. Is there anything known about the pinout and workings of ...