Midrange Spotlight: The AS/400

The AS/400 is the original name for one of IBM's most successful and long lived computing products. Introduced in 1988, the Application System 400 or AS/400 for short, was a midrange computer system catering to medium sized enterprises, small corporations, government agencies and a broad spectrum of industries and organizations. It's been 25 years since its introduction and it's testament to its versatility and popularity that AS/400 descendants remain widely used today.

In the Beginning

In 1988, the AS/400 was launched, replacing several separate IBM systems that previously catered to mid-sized users. We particularly like this launch advert featuring the cast of the sitcom MASH (although, not quite as much as we like the PR1ME commercials featuring Dr Who! https://youtu.be/iJeu3LCo-6A)

At launch some 2,500 software titles were available immediately thanks in part to the fact that the AS/400 was able to run legacy software produced for its predecessors. This, combined with significant computing power increases, flexibility (there were six initial model options) and a competitive price point on entry level models lead to the AS/400 becoming a run-away success. In just four years IBM shipped it's 200,000th unit. In 1998 IBM reported that it had sold an AS/400 to a customer every 12 minutes of every workday over the life of the product range.

New Names

In the year 2000 IBM changed the systems' name from AS/400 to eServer iSeries. The 'i' prefix had nothing to do a line of popular consumer computers and peripherals produced by a certain technology company with a fruit based motif. Rather, the 'i' stood for 'integration'. Later still the name would change to System I and finally change once more to come under the umbrella name, Power Systems. Confused? We don't blame you. Many old hands, including those walking around the Turbosoft offices still affectionately refer to these systems as AS/400s. It's unlikely there's too much vintage pre-2000 hardware still running out there, but we know what they mean.

The operating systems native to the AS/400 hardware have gone through a similar line of name changes over the years too. The original OS/400 (Operating System 400) became i5/OS which in turn became IBMi.

This year marks 25 years of IBMi, a remarkable feat of longevity in an industry that has seen so much change and technological advance over that period. Not surprisingly IBM and the many, many IT professionals who have worked and continue to work with AS/400 systems are celebrating the milestone.

What does Turbosoft do for the AS/400?

As producers of terminal emulation software our fondness for the AS/400 comes from our long history of producing 5250 terminal emulation. 5250 is a general term used to refer to a family of terminals that were used to connect to the AS/400. Over the years we've produced Windows 5250 terminal emulation software as well as emulators for embedded and handheld devices, web based emulation and soon, 5250 terminal emulation for the iPad. We support TN5250 and TN5250e , HLLAPI, 5250 printing (3812) and much more. For a free trial download of our 5250 terminal emulation software, click here.

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