View Full Version : Conquest: 5364 System/36, 5170 host

March 15th, 2014, 03:22 PM
Well I've gone and done it, I spent 4hrs in the car to go pickup a Baby S/36 system, with host PC, monitor, keyboard, 8 Binders of manuals, 2 boxes of disks, and spares.

So far I've powered on the 5170 to be greeted with a 161 error, Going to need to find a battery and reconfigure that before going any futher.

The 5170 is loaded with:

1x5.25, 1x3.5 Floppy
1xST238R HDD
2x Serial cards
1x MDA/Parallel
1x Memory card
1x S/36 "Driver Board"
FDD/RLL controller

The 5364 is loaded with:

1x5.25 Floppy
2x40MB ESDI?

I also got some spare cards for the 5364, Looks like a processor card, Memory card, and RTC card?

I'll take some pictures later if there's interest.

March 17th, 2014, 01:34 AM
Wow, that's a pretty nice and complete kit you have managed to get your hands on. Those machines supported Twinax devices, no?
I'd love to see pictures. Never even knew they made the System/36 that small.

March 23rd, 2014, 06:31 AM
Never even knew they made the System/36 that small.
I remember them well. It was during the time in IBM when all the other Divisions were jumping on the PC bandwagon.

Al Kossow
March 23rd, 2014, 07:37 AM
2 boxes of disks

Imaging the disks would be nice.

March 23rd, 2014, 04:39 PM
These small System/36s were targeted at small businesses or branch offices. Many insurance agents had them, with modems / leased lines back to headquarters. They were also used for small banking branches as well.

Quite a bit smaller than a System/34 would be... I used to work at a bank that had a System/34 to run the old MICR reader/sorter, and you'd transfer the data to a System/38 for processing using an 8" floppy cartridge. It was only the backup for the primary system, however, which involved a custom Z80-based interface that converted the MICR reader/sorter to a 9600 baud serial interface, which was then controlled by a custom Turbo Pascal application on a 386 PC... it sorted checks about 300% faster than the System/34. The check sorter was originally built for a System/3, and IBM made an interface for the /34... but not the /38.

The /34 would only use 10 pockets of the sorter (0-9). The PC program would also use socket "A". Both would capture a list of all the account numbers on the first pass, then index that list to do the sorting passes. Since the /34 used 10 pockets, that list would be sorted in base 10. The PC however would index that list and sort in base 11. It was nice on the days when we had less than 1200 account numbers in the batch... sorting only took 3 passes instead of four.

We upgraded the /38 to an AS/400 E series (E45?) in 1992, and the PC program still transferred the data using the same virtual 5250 session as the System/38.

March 24th, 2014, 04:21 AM
What was the reader sorter? I only remember the giant 3890s (probably because I never worked for GSD) that had a S/360 Model 50 as their logic. They attached to a S /370 Channel.

March 24th, 2014, 09:02 AM
I don't remember the exact model of the sorter... it was about 7 feet wide, four feet deep, and five feet tall. Blue/white paint scheme, it was definitely mid-60s to early 70s vintage. I hated people that stapled checks... one staple across the magnetizing head would reject about 100 checks before I could hit the stop button, it ran that fast. The interface was a BIG square connector with at least a hundred pins, the sorter had very little logic in itself. The little Z80 based single board computer was mounted inside the back doors, and instead of a big anaconda of a cable (left there to connect the System/34 if necessary), there was a nice little RS-232 line to the PC.

It had two columns of six pockets, 0-4 and reject in the first column, 5-9 and A in the last column. You could sort off-line by running one pass per digit sorted, using 0-9 pockets. Each pocket held about 500 checks, I got very good at pulling checks from the pockets while it was running and loading them onto a custom-made sorting cart.

It was a local bank with about 50000 accounts, though we processed more than that sometimes during the holiday rushes, including outside checks that were written to businesses that had accounts with us. Had to do a five pass smart sort on the holidays, so there were over 14000 account numbers in those batches... I had to get check trays from upstairs to hold each pocket as there were too many for the sorting cart.

We used to do ACH/bank card transactions once per day using a dedicated external modem / phone line, with crypto. I can't remember the maker of the RS-232 crypto box used, the modem was a Motorola, and it was only switched on / connected when I did the transfers, once the transfer was over I disconnected it / powered it off. Rocky Mountain Bankcard System was one of the transfers for the ATM/debit/credit cards... the ACH transfer was done immediately afterwards through a different exchange.

Edit: I found an input/output device summary with pictures, the check sorter was a 1255 model 3.


March 27th, 2014, 06:59 AM
I have had my 5364 for 20+ years and still run it every few months. Love that old green screen emulation.

March 29th, 2014, 02:21 PM
A reminder we are still looking for the IBM System/36 Assembler and the IBM System/36 FORTRAN compiler. The latter needed a special system library to provide floating point emulation since the System/36 only did BCD arithmetic.

More versions of SSP would be welcome too, although I have not seen a matrix of found versus extant versions of SSP to know what is missing/still to be found.

April 2nd, 2014, 09:18 PM
Just a quick update:

After rebuilding the battery, entering the cmos settings in basic and booting the 5170 it became very apparent the ST-238R was dying, I created copied everything (S36, PCS36,VDISK) from the drive minus dos onto 2x 1.44mb floppies and have everything backed up needed to restore onto a new drive, I have a ST-4038 drive at work I'm planning on using.

Once the ST-4038 is installed, and the type (20) is configured, do I need to do a LLF or change the interleave? I don't know what the status is of the drive as it was pulled from a system many years ago.

JOHNMORR: Once I have the 5170 straightened out, what are the correct procedures for powering on and off of the 5364? I can't imagine that at the end of the day you could just flip them both off and expect the file-system to be too happy.

I fully plan on taking images of all the Disks for the 5170 and the 5364, the only problem I see and correct me if I'm wrong, which I likely am :) is the 5364 was the only S36 to use a 5-1/4 drive, and the format of the disks was not PC compatible. I'm not even sure the drive in the 5364 is a standard PC drive?


April 6th, 2014, 02:55 AM
Powering of:
I typically power on my 5170 first, followed by the 5364 (afraid of spikes). I run dos 6.2 and have set up options in autoexec.bat and config.sys to load different drivers, so that I am prompted to load the system 36 stuff.
Also, my version of the console software is one that doesn't like over 512 k of memory, so I am memory limited. Hence the startup menu. Yours may or may not be the same.

Powering off:
When you get a message light/beep (confirm by going to console mode SHIFT+ESC+ENTER if you like), the system has stopped and you can enter POWER OFF. Remember that this does not actually power the 5364 off, just stops the interface. The 5364 still has to be shut down using the switch.

Disk drive:
Correct, not pc-compatible diskette format. Mine uses 1.2mb. My assumption has always been that the drive itself IS a standard drive, but with an IBM controller.

I would certainly be interested in any disk image that you can produce.

I have documentation that I can share, also some duplicate hard copy is available.


April 24th, 2014, 05:05 PM

I located an MFM controller for the ST4038 for the 5170, Installed, configured the drive type, LLF, HLF, installed dos and restored my backup. Back in business.

Turned on the 5364 for the first time..... Let it boot? (floppy light was on for a long time), and could see communication of some sort by selecting option 2.
Alt+ESC, and select station 1, Blinking terminal cursor in the top right, and the terminal info along the bottom. That's it nothing more. I never see the user login screen. select option 1 from the service screen I can change my service level from Normal to service, Password=password :) but not much more I can see or do. selecting options 3,4,5 result in: "reload the s/36 attachment program"

At this point, Either I'm doing something wrong (which is likely) or it's a big paperweight... :(

April 26th, 2014, 03:27 AM
Unfortunately, I have no original disks for the console programs on the PC, nor any docs, so I don't really know what's going on in there.
However, mine does work.

I can describe my sequence of events if that helps:
1. with the 5364 powered up, run s36pcap.exe and s36pcaps.exe (mine are in a .bat file).
2. I immediately get a blank screen with ONLY a two digit mumber in the UPPER Left.
3. After a countdown of some sort, I then get the SERVICE CONTROL MENU with "IPL in progress, please wait" in the bottom left.
4. After a short time, the message changes to "IPL in progress, diagnostics remaining.........xx" where xx is a two digit countdown.
5. When that countdown finishes, I get the "green screen" with normal workstation status indicators at the bottom (none lit), and a block cursor in the upper right.
6. After a moment, I personally get SRC codes (which you may not). The SA(system available) indicator is ON.
7. After I press the enter key to acknowledge the SRCs, The standard S/36 IPL SIGNON DISPLAY appears.

Note that NO key presses other than acknowleging the SRC is needed IF ANY. It just boots to the IPL Signon Screen.
Also, remember that the process is really SLOW. Mine takes 3 to 4 minutes to display the IPL SIGNON display.

There is a memory issue that seems to crop up on the PC. When I ran the console from a 286 clone, no issues. But when that crashed (disk), I replaced it with a PC AT and I couldn't have more than 512k in it. I have no idea why.
Also, there is a speed issue. I could never get anything over 8mhz to work is the console PC. The turbo Clone ran at 10, and I had to run in non-turbo mode.

Good luck with this. I will watch for your posts.

May 22nd, 2014, 02:54 PM
A better image of a 1255 check sorter...