IBM’s AS/400 20th Birthday Party Pictures
July 7, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
When I was but a young cub reporter way back when (OK, in the late 1980s), I remember how Big Blue threw a party. Every year, members of the IT trade press in the New York area, even those who wrote for relatively tiny newsletters such as The Four Hundred, were invited to an annual Christmas bash hosted at the Plaza Hotel. Being a country bumpkin, I had never been to such a glamorous place, and I was impressed by the spread of food and booze that IBM put together to people who it would probably rather round up and send to Siberia.
Rochester, Minnesota, is not Siberia, of course, but in the winter time, which runs from about late September through early August (I am kidding, it is actually early July, or was before global warming, er, excuse me, climate change, did its magic on the two Minnesota seasons, which I once had explained to me as winter and preparing for winter), it might as well be. As I told you it would, IBM did indeed host a birthday party of sorts at the Rochester facility on June 23, the closest Monday to the June 21 launch 20 years ago of the AS/400. If the pictures are any indication, champagne and prime rib were not served. Boy, do I miss the days before chairman Louis Gerstner put austerity measures in place in the mid-1990s and basically killed off the kinds of big parties I remember. IBM is doing better financially these days then it was doing a decade ago, so big product announcements and similar events usually are in a nice hotel with good eats. (Honest, I really do go for the information at these events, and I usually split even before lunch is served because of deadline pressure. But I do notice how IBM is treating press and analysts, just like I do for other IT players I deal with.)
Anyway, here a picture of soon-to-be-retired Bill Zeitler, senior vice president and group executive in charge of IBM’s Systems and Technology Group, getting a congratulatory handshake from Dan Kimmell, the treasurer of the AS/400, iSeries, System i, and i user group, COMMON, in Rochester Party Central:
Notice the empty chairs? Hey, it’s supposed to be a celebration. I expected a crowd, to be honest.
Anyway, Ross Mauri, formerly in charge of IBM’s mainframe development and general manager of the former System p product line and now general manager of the merged Power Systems division, was on hand at the event, too. (He’s on the left in the picture below.) So were COMMON members Tom Holtsbery and Alex Beltran, who won a raffle at the COMMON spring event to get a freebie trip to Rochester. That’s Kimmell and Zeitler in the middle, flanked by Holtsbery and Beltran, with COMMON president, Randy Dufault, on the far right:
Here’s COMMON members Alex Beltran and Tom Holtsbery standing next to an AS/400 beige box circa 1988 and a new Power 595 box circa 2008 at the 20th anniversary celebration:
Once again, the AS/400 was ahead of its time. Notice those groovy rack-mounted systems and peripherals. Crazy, man. What will they think of next in the X64 server space? Integrated databases and development environments? Virtual peripherals and memory addressing? Stay tuned.