Reader Feedback On: The Application RISC Machine System/500
March 5, 2012 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Interesting article. . . .
Your comment: “But so were the IBM Fort Knox and Future Systems projects, too.” They both failed big time. I’m not sure if younger readers know this.
I can’t address all the features you discussed. My hang-up has always centered around programmers and operators (in the loosest sense) who keep getting themselves in trouble and it takes too much time and money to pay a consultant to pull them out of a ditch. We (IBM) should have learned by now how to properly instrument, analyze, and recommend “fixes” before they become problems, not after the fact.
–Rick, IBM System/3X and follow-ons, from 1973 to present
It is true that Fort Knox and Future Systems “failed” as they were intended, but a lot of that good tech ended up in the System/38 and the AS/400, as well as a few other machines.
Here is my idea.
Every program should automatically get into a database similar to DSPPGMERF, but without the need of doing it. And in that database should also be not only the tables that the program is using, but it should have also all the rows, and if it gets changed or only used. It is very old-fashioned that as a row is being changed by some program, and it is not known automatically where and when.
The same is true about Programs/Modules/Procedures–an automatic database where are they used.
And if a program is doing some tricks how it handles other programs, procedures, or tables, and the system cannot determine easily (the program name being called is a variable or the table is a variable), a warning message should be issued upon compilation.
What was the nicest part of the System/38? You did not have to understand it to use it well.
You know I have two books out on the subject: The All Everything Machine and The All-Everything Operating System. Catchy names, right?
My thoughts for the future of the Software Group-controlled PP/400 (short for Piece Parts/400) or PPi if you want to use the more modern nomenclature, were for IBM to create a new integration bundle and release it as an integrated all-in-one type machine or software package plus machine and call it simply the Business Machine or the IBM Business Machine (IBM), using a recursive acronym like PHP, which is short for PHP Hypertext Preprocessor.
Simple would sell. And, of course RPG can be retuned to make it less like Java and PHP and more business-like with native Web GUI and can be released as The Business Language. My tech friends hate that, but as an IBM Systems Engineer for 23 years, my customers loved simple.
The clients that built the best applications were not worrying about advanced IT programming in low-level code. The more that could be done by one operation at a human level, the more my customers–S/38 and AS/400 clients–liked it, and the more business function they were able to deploy.
It was the Application System/400 because it was integrated thus making all interfaces natural for programming. There were no function calls no matter how much IT gurus like them. Read and Write were real operation verbs rather than using a foreign construct like a call interface to a database or a web function.
When there was a bug, in almost all cases, it was IBM’s OS or programming languages and it was fixed post haste. It was not that the programmer had forgotten the code to stop the low-level function loop.
Maybe enough time has passed that “easy to use” and “hard to forget” and productivity can actually be used again to describe a new system.
If Apple or Microsoft came out with the integrated System/38 today, it would still be highly innovative.
–Brian Kelly, former IBMer, author, and lovable gadfly
Great stuff, TPM!
Last week, after 33 years, I got laid off from a job where I had first selected System/38 as our corporate standard. Fast forward 30 years and many buyouts. The new corporation doesn’t want to use “AS/400” and we’ve been tasked with legacy removal of our LPAR’d Power System that ran various locations. It does a lot, so we’re not done with it just yet. But we’re running SAP on many Hewlett-Packard servers even though rumor has it that SAP works great on IBM i.
So, I became legacy, too, and will move on. Hopefully, to a future where some of your predictions come true.
FYI: I’m reading this on my iPad, which certainly will be one UI choice for your ARMS/500. Let me know if you need developers for it! As Stephen King says in 11/22/63, the past and future harmonize.