View Full Version : Huge 1988 Mainframe Hard Drive!! (IBM 9332, IBM AS/400) MainFrame Build Project video

July 20th, 2012, 02:11 AM
Hi all,

Just to let you know that I've just put up a video on my YouTube channel about a 1988 IBM 9332 400GB mainframe hard drive that I've aquired for the project I'm just starting to put together my own IBM AS/400 mainframe in the livingroom (yes, I'm completely insane).

Please enjoy the video and leave behind any helpful comments. Also, if anybody has any technical data on the IBM 9332 or the IBM AS/400 or even any parts they can donate/sell at a reasonable cost, that would be much appreciated :o)

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQZrNJKcgOE

Best regards,


July 21st, 2012, 03:24 AM
I had no idea there were such beasts around in 1988, I wouldn't have thought it possible or at least practical to put together 400GB worth of platters for a harddrive, about a decade before the Giant Magnetoresistance (http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/v30n3-4/giant.htm) revolution. I was never exposed to mainframes back then though, but I recall that the 1.2GB disks from Control Data were supposed to be quite large at the very end of the eighties (we used them on minicomputers. Well actually we used the 0.6GB sized variants from Control Data's "micro" division instead because they didn't hold on to the SCSI bus as long as the big one, so was much more efficient when you had more than one unit on a controller).

I do remember the typical capacity of CCT tapes back then, so I can imagine it must have been a nightmare to back up that 400GB monster.


July 21st, 2012, 05:19 AM
It's 400 megabytes not gigabytes. We had many similar drives in 4 cabinets in an AS/400 we bought at the end of the 80's to replace two System 38's.

July 21st, 2012, 08:34 AM
Ah, indeed, it's only 400MB. And a search shows that it was introduced as early as 1986, and then a size of 400MB would fit completely in with the sizes I remember from 1988+ of 630MB and 1.2GB (1989 or 1990) Control Data disks.
And I had a working 0.6GB Fujitsu disk from 1989 (well, it was bought in 1989), it died on me only recently, having been in use 24/7 since then with only a very few maintenance (as in moving equipment) stops.

Steve, maybe you should edit your post so that it doesn't say "400GB"? I assume it was just a typo.


July 21st, 2012, 05:18 PM
I encountered an IBM 9332 about a month ago, I moved it a couple of metres to photograph it and I agree it easily weighs more than the stickered 18kg, this listing shows one weighing in at 80 lbs, which seems more likely.


Hopefully you can get a disk-image copy of the 9332 before you overwrite the contents, could be some interesting software on there.

IBM AS/400s were classed (by IBM) as mid-range systems in their product range, rather than mainframes, although the largest AS/400s were easily as big as a typical IBM mainframe of the time in terms of IO capacity, cabinets, and they used the same SPD backplane etc.

Any chance of pictures of your B30 frame please?

July 23rd, 2012, 03:18 PM
There isn't really any point in copying a 9332 from an AS/400 unless it was the only disk in the machine. The AS/400 has no concept of volumes so files are typically spread over all drives in the system.

Some time in the 80's (I think) I had the pleasure of visiting the IBM Havant (near Portsmouth UK) disk drive plant and watching the big brother of the 9332, the double height 9335 DASD (disk) being made.

The alloy frame that all the mechanical components was machined in a fully automated process. The casting were fed onto somthing like a store cloths rack. A robot arm picked them off and loaded them onto the machining station. There the blank was machined and the screw holes drilled and tapped to a very precise standard. Once machined the frame was cleaned in bath of solvent which also had the effect of reducing the temprature which had been raised by the machining. This was necessary so its dimensions could be accuratly checked. The whole system was controlled by several PC's running DOS.

Once machined the units were passed into a clean room where the platters and electronics were added. They were aligned with UV microscopes. I seem to recall that the clean room ran on two 12 hour shifts to minmize dust ingress at shift change over.

These drives were also used on the 9370 "VAX Buster" mainframe, which was really too slow and too expensive to kill a VAX.

July 23rd, 2012, 11:47 PM
They got way bigger. I have a 250mb drive from the 80s that if I sat on top of that would probably make it even smaller. Into the early 90's they were still selling IPI drives bigger than a car engine. They got up to 10gb or so. I had one running once that made the whole house vibrate as it spun up. It was awesome. I miss those drives.

jim s
July 26th, 2012, 07:02 PM
Back in the 80's I was a Field Engineer for Burroughs. We had some "thin film" drives OEM'ed from Memorex, if I recall. I think they had 800MB per spindle. Repairing one in the field was major surgery. You had to get approval from the district guy to order a replacement head/disk assembly. When it arrived it had to set unopened for a day in the machine room to acclimatize. Once installed... which required something like a small engine hoist..... it had to air purge for an hour before flying the heads. I hate to admit it, but when I went to training on it, our lab team crashed the heads.

July 28th, 2012, 03:22 AM
The 800Mb memorex were really tempermental. We had some on a Honeywell L61/60.
Later I worked in a place with some IBM "winchester" drives as they were called, models 3310 or 3315, or 3350 I think. When one failed the IBM engineer used to bring the Head/disk assembley in as mentioned above they needed a long time to acclimatize.

However he then had to run through all the diagnostics, and was only allowed to fit the drive when the diagnostics permitted. The diagnostics took nearly as long to run as the drive did to acclimatize. The drive had two sets of heads so there was two of every card and cable in the drive. The diagnostics made the poor engineer swap every card and cable from side to side before it pronouced the drive dead..

July 28th, 2012, 04:45 AM
... The drive had two sets of heads so there was two of every card and cable in the drive. The diagnostics made the poor engineer swap every card and cable from side to side before it pronouced the drive dead..
If you are talking about the IBM 3350 disk drive, it had 2 sets of cards because it had 2 spindles or HDAs, which were 2 different drives in the same box. I'm not familiar with any diagnostics that would direct the engineer to swap every card from side to side. The diagnostics I used back then would narrow down the problem to 1 or 2 cards, swapping them from side to side would simply be a way of confirming which particular card was bad. I've never heard of the need to acclimatize the HDAs, we never did that when swapping them out.

I worked in IBM's disk drive business in Calif. for 20 years and I had never heard of the 9332 disk drive. Was it produced at the Havant plant?

July 30th, 2012, 10:39 AM
If it found a faulty card it let the CE change it. It was when it was the HDA that failed that it did all the swapping just so it was 110% certain it was the HDA. They were very expensive.

The 9332 wasn't made in Havant it was its big brother the 9335 which was developed at Hursley that was made in Havant. I think they were announced as part of the 9370 launch and then used on the AS/400.

August 3rd, 2012, 09:30 AM
Thanks, I did mean megabytes lol. Sorry for the late response, it didn't tell me anybody had replied :(

It's 400 megabytes not gigabytes. We had many similar drives in 4 cabinets in an AS/400 we bought at the end of the 80's to replace two System 38's.

August 3rd, 2012, 09:32 AM
I did mean megabytes sorry, and sorry for the late response, the system didn't tell me anybody had responded :o(

August 3rd, 2012, 09:33 AM
Yes, it was sorry, I did mean 400mb. I may have to put another video up because it seems to have developed an intermittent fault at the mo :o(. Sorry for hte late response, I didn't get an email to say anybody had responded :o(

May 3rd, 2013, 05:03 PM
I have a large hard drive given to me when at college in the early 2000's I think it was made by Fujitsu in 1989 and is 330mb with platters about 2ft across under a transparent cover, I even have the PSU for it, I was told it was used by a studio for graphics? it is very heavy, I dont know if it works it would be cool the set it up and use it? and maybe recover data? think the interface was a precursor to scsi? all the info is from memory when I looked it up when still in college, are there meny vintage large hard drives working?