Celebrating 35 Years of the IBM i

Leah Avner

35 years ago today, in Rochester, Minnesota IBM announced their latest and greatest, the AS/400. It's no coincidence that one of the longest-reigning platforms was launched on the longest day of the year (or maybe it is), but either way, today the Briteskies team got together to pay homage to the thing that has, and continues to, serve so many businesses so well.

Meeting around the conference table (virtually and in-person) we went through a timeline of  the past 35 years and each member of our ERP team shared their own history on the platform including their first job working on the system.

Here are a few of the excerpts:

I started on a System/36 back in 1986, I was doing the financials for the company I was with at the time. My first experience on the AS/400 specifically was back in 1995 when the company I was working for implemented JD Edwards World. – Dave Balser

MicrosoftTeams-image (36)I was hired to work on the second AS/400 installed in the state of Ohio, or at least that’s always what the rumor was. The company was running JDE World, the first version they installed was version F.5.4 designed to run on the System/38. Eventually, we brought it to A4.2. – Mike Iaconis

My first experience with the platform was in 1995. I was a JDE user working in accounts payable, but I really wanted to work in IT. I took RPG lessons using the AS400 and asked the system operator if I could use some tape for RPG development. – Cecelia Gruber

In school, I initially tried to focus on C++ because I was really hoping to become a gaming programmer. I got a job out of school and they liked that I had the C++ knowledge, but primarily I’ve used my RPG skills. It just goes to show you. – Clyde Brady

I started back in 1989 at a car insurance underwriter and lease vehicle administrator in Maryland. I didn't work on  the R2D2 sized B01 model, I worked on the rack-mounted model, whichever that one was. I was in operations then and was excited that this new machine had a self-loading (dubious) tape drive, replacing the washing machine sized reel-to-reel tape unit being used on the System/38. - Dale Roger

For me it was 1989,  Robert Nettgen next to F35 rack - Jan, 1992I was working on the R2D2 sided B01. I came across it again in 1992 when I was tasked with moving my employer from a System/38 to an AS/400 model D35. - Robert Nettgen

I studied computer science in school, but we mainly focused on C and Pascal. I graduated college in 1995 and couldn’t find a job anywhere. I ended up going to work for a consulting company and they trained a whole group of us in RPG and the AS/400 and sent us out on client sites. – Vaughn Magdics

I started at an automotive parts company as a system administrator in 1992. They had a  AS400, two racks - F35 - Jan, 1992sortation system that wasn't being fully utilized so I developed a barcode system which reduced our missed shipments by 95% percent. The head of IT really appreciated that I took the initiative and asked me to come to his department and that's how I got introduced to the AS'/400. I had no prior knowledge of system administration, but I did a lot of IBM manual reading. They gave me a chance and I just ran with it. – Phillip Pesnell

I started out working at Computer Depot, configuring PCs and customizing them for clients. I went to ICM School of Business and I took courses in COBOL, RPG, Basic, and Fortran – all the courses were one semester except for COBOL, that one was two. When it came time for me to actually have a development job I had no idea how to actually do it, I just started out reading through the code. - Rich Baker

The IBM i platform has been around the block a few times, but regardless how and why you got your start, anyone using the platform can agree there’s a reason why the IBM i is still so widely used 35 years later.

So happy birthday old chap, cheers to another year around the sun!

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