One of my plans for this new blog is to write about the interesting aspects of different old computers that I’ve become interested in over the years. I’ve decided to approach the series alphabetically by vendor name—instead of by model, as I was originally planning—and covering these systems, at least:
- Acorn Archimedes (RISC OS) / BBC Micro / BBC BASIC
- Apple II series / IIGS / Macintosh / PowerMac
- Atari 8-bit family / Atari ST
- Commodore 64 / 128 / Amiga (AmigaOS)
- DEC PDP-11 / VAX / Alpha / Itanium / x86-64 (OpenVMS)
- IBM PC (OS/2) / IBM Z (z/OS)
- Sharp X68000
- Sun UltraSPARC (Solaris)
IBM Z is a special case because it’s the only system on the list that has its own hardware architecture and is still depended upon by the largest of businesses for their most critical workloads. I’m planning a whole series about how IBM had built most of our networked revolution (minus the Internet) by the mid-1970s, at least as far as revolutionizing business through computerization.
My childhood in the 1980s and 1990s was about the revolutionary nature of home computers—not very powerful at first, but powerful enough to start a popular revolution that continues today.
Today we have high-speed Internet and fast 64-bit home PCs and mobile devices, many with HiDPI touchscreens, so we have an embarrassment of riches in terms of our local compute power. But IBM mainframes continue to provide most of the backend transaction processing for our fancy new devices, just like they did for 3270 terminals in the 1970s and 1980s.
3270 terminal emulation is still useful today. But I’ll have more to say about that in future posts about my z/OS learning adventures. This is a pretty big list already, but if there are any other systems that you’d like me to talk about, or if you have some memories about working with these old machines, please share in the comments below.