[ Retro Scan of the Week ] IBM Smart Desk

April 28th, 2014 by Benj Edwards

IBM 3270 PC Smart Desk 1985Multitasking in the early days.

Ah, the IBM 3270 PC. What a strange beast. It was essentially an IBM PC that could also emulate an IBM 3270 terminal, which allowed it to link up to IBM mainframes. In a sense, this was IBM’s version of the AppleLine protocol adapter (featured in a Retro Scan a few weeks ago), albeit one built into an IBM PC.

By the way, look at the keyboard on this machine. Function keys galore. I’ve always wanted one of those.

[ From TIME, May 6 1985, p.B14-B15]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used an IBM mainframe computer?

9 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] IBM Smart Desk”

  1. Alexander Says:

    I was born in 1990, that question answers itself…

    However, given the chance, I would in a heartbeat.

  2. V Says:

    I’m tempted to print out and mail in the coupon, just to see what would happen.

  3. V Says:

    As far as the discussion topic, not mainframe per se, but I do currently use an IBM System i (formerly iSeries and even more formerly AS/400) at work. IBM i (aka OS/400) is a different beast entirely from modern operating systems, though the hardware can run AIX and Linux as well. Most of our codebase is in RPG, which is an interesting language, interesting being a euphemism for archaic. But, to give credit where credit is due, those suckers sure are stable. The only time we’ve had to reboot them is when upgrading the OS to a later version.

  4. Jim Carpenter Says:

    I’ve been playing with IBM mainframes since the late ’80s. Now I mostly use Hercules, an emulator that can emulate IBM 360, 370, S/390, and the current z/Arch mainframes.

    IBM mainframes are still being pumped out. They just celebrated 50 years of the 360 lineage the other week.

  5. Babbage Says:

    I worked at IBM as a summer intern in 1985 and 1986, and we did everything on terminals. I really don’t know what the iron behind everything we did was, but the Rochester site was concentrated on making minicomputers like the System/36 and /38. According to the wikipedia, ” It weighed 700 lb (318 kg), cost (US) $100,000 and up, and is believed to have had processor speeds of about 2 MHz and 8 MHz for its two processors, which in 1983 was faster than the “Personal Computers” on the market. ” It supported up to 80 terminals.

    Ah, the good old days!

  6. Daniel Says:

    My father worked at IBM from about 1968-1998, and I remember using PROFS to send messages to a friend in Germany (his father worked at IBM too). Also, I worked at IBM in the mid-1990s, so I used it then too. When I worked there, I hoped that I could use OS/2, but at the time Windows was the only way to get to the mainframe.

  7. arlandi Says:

    honestly, the first time i look at that photo, i thought what kind of a desk is that? and i’m talking about that real desk.
    anybody know what windowing system being use in the photo?

    no i have never use any kind of mainframes.
    are there any ready to use emulators for them? would love to try some.

  8. Ant Says:

    That desk doesn’t look stable at all!

  9. Dar Says:

    That’s a sweet desk. Would be nice in a kid’s room.

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