How Long You Been in The AS/400 Game, and Are You Winning?
June 23, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Last week, I reminded you–as if you needed to be reminded–of the AS/400’s impending 20th birthday, which hit on June 21. It has been a long and sometimes wacky journey to get here, and it occurs to me as IBM is celebrating the AS/400’s birthday at the Rochester, Minnesota, lab and factory today on Monday, with Bill Zeitler and some customers flying out to the site, that many of us have long and interesting histories with the AS/400.
As I was talking to some ISVs last week, I asked them their stories, which some of them told. Some people, as it turns out, have very deep roots in the IBM midrange, and that has, not surprisingly, allowed them to weather many economic and technical storms. I think that we all probably have different and interesting stories relating to how we came to the AS/400 platform, what it has done for our personal and career development, and where we think we are heading. If you feel like sharing your story–and I hope you do–hit that Contact button up there at the top of the page and tell me yours. It would be great to get a cross-section of programmers, system administrators, IT managers, resellers, marketing people, and other specialists out there in the i ecosystem to respond. Having gathered up these stories, I will then package them up for everyone to read.
The one thing I am looking for is whether or not the AS/400 has been good for your career, and how you think your professional life would have turned out differently for you had the AS/400 never existed. (Think of yourself as Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life and you’ll get the right idea.) That’s a scary thought for a lot of people–myself included.
I have no idea where I would have ended up had Technology News of America not hired me in July 1989 to be the editor of a new newsletter called The Four Hundred. There was a recession. I had just been laid off of a short-term public relations gig at Columbia University, and writing jobs were as scarce as hen’s teeth in New York. And through the highs and lows of the next 19 years, I have always been able to make a living–sometimes good, sometimes great, sometimes mediocre–writing about the AS/400 and its successors. It is the bedrock of my professional career–if you can call being the editor of a newsletter such a thing as a career. All things that I currently cover and know about IT come from my study of the AS/400 and the kindness and patience of thousands of IT managers, programmers, and software vendors–not to mention I don’t know how many IBMers–who have talked to me and educated me over these two decades. To paraphrase Robert Frost, two paths diverged in a wood for me on that hot July day, and I took the path least traveled–and that has made all the difference. I have made more money in the past than I do now, but I get to work from an office located in my apartment building, with a view of a lovely street, and I spend lots of time with my children, my collie, and my wife when she is home. I still get to help you sort out what the hell is going on out there in AS/400 land, side-by-side with my colleagues at IT Jungle, and be your advocate. I am still winning, and I have to tell you, I don’t like to lose.
One last thing: Do you serve beige maple syrup-butter cream icing on an AS/400 shaped yellow cake with for the party that IBM is hosting on Monday? And do you have Bill Zeitler jump out of the cake? I am just asking. . . .