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View Full Version : Thoughts on getting a IBM System/34



ThisPostContainsComputers
February 3rd, 2016, 01:37 PM
Hello,

This is my first post on this website, I have had a account for awhile and never got around to post.

To the point, I posted a ad on craigslist a few months ago asking if anyone had any minicomputers/mainframes that I could buy and after a lot of people wanting crazy amounts for systems someone finally send me a email saying that they had a System/34 and that they would like to trade for some Windows 95 type computers (I have a lot of them). There is a catch thought, apparently this guy is a scrapper and he got this system to salvage it for gold but never got around to doing so but he did manage to disassemble the whole thing. All the cards, sockets, drives, and other stuff where taken out of the machine and now reside in his garage. He says all the parts are still there and intact but have been taken out of the machine. As for the main chassis he says that it is in a local scrapyard and he can go get it if we want but it is apparently very rusty. I need to know if it is a good idea this pick it up or not.

First off, how would I go about reassembling the thing. As far as I could see I could not find any schematics on the system but there is someone on youtube (jpkiwigeek) who has a system and the manuals that containing how the machine goes together. Is there anyone on the fourm that knows how to reassemble one of these or knows where I can find this information.

Second, if I can get the machine together, how would I got about fixing those IBM custom ICs. I have been collecting computers long enough to know that some IC will almost ALWAYS go bad while sitting in someones garage for a few years. I think it is possible to find some sort of replacement as there are running IBM computers that I have seen on websites that have those types of ICs.

It would be nice to know what I am getting into before I buy it

Thanks

Al Kossow
February 3rd, 2016, 03:01 PM
As far as I could see I could not find any schematics on the system

try bitsavers.org/pdf/ibm/system34

NeXT
February 3rd, 2016, 04:13 PM
As long as ALL of the parts he and the yard which currently has the frame removed are accounted for (that includes the power supplies which were rich in copper and the drive motors), rusty or not it sounds like a fun reassembly project. Just watch out for clipped wire harnesses as I'm sure Buddy had no expectations this hardware would be seeing any use again.


First off, how would I go about reassembling the thing. As far as I could see I could not find any schematics on the system but there is someone on youtube (jpkiwigeek) who has a system and the manuals that containing how the machine goes together. Is there anyone on the fourm that knows how to reassemble one of these or knows where I can find this information.
Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle. ;) While I've never seen any of IBM's minis in person, from the photographs I have seen all the components bolt into the frame and you just need to properly dress and route the cabling.
Also, has jpkiwigeek actually touched that machine since those two videos he made almost six years ago now? I've heard absolutely no report on how he was progressing.


Second, if I can get the machine together, how would I got about fixing those IBM custom ICs. I have been collecting computers long enough to know that some IC will almost ALWAYS go bad while sitting in someones garage for a few years. I think it is possible to find some sort of replacement as there are running IBM computers that I have seen on websites that have those types of ICs.

You don't. An IC goes bad you'll have a heck of a time sourcing an exact replacement and you might be better off just sourcing entirely replacement boards.
Also "those types of IC's" are just how IBM packaged their silicon. In the early days it was called SLT and unless you read the numbers on each chip it is impossible to tell one from another.

Jimmy
February 3rd, 2016, 05:09 PM
I would find an old IBM FE to get an opinion from, surely there is one here in the forum.

I believe the IBM 32's and 34's had wired backplanes for the card cages, but a FE can tell you for sure.

ThisPostContainsComputers
February 3rd, 2016, 06:51 PM
Hello,

As for the power supply I think he probably still has it as he told me that he took all the electronics so I am assuming he took the power supply out too but I am going to ask him just to make sure. He said he would send me some pictures of all the components soon.

In the case there is not a power supply or one of the IBM ICs have gone bad, should I still get the system? I am hopeful that I will be able to make a working system but if I am not is there anyone out there that could use something off of it like spare parts or something like that?

Thanks

NeXT
February 3rd, 2016, 11:57 PM
If you do not receive the power supply, don't even touch it because you'll never find another one without finding another machine first. That's what Mike Ross ended up doing when he wanted a System/32.
As for the bad logic, well you won't know exactly how bad that situation is until you power it up. If you managed to IPL on the first try you are in good shape.

Al Kossow
February 4th, 2016, 06:56 AM
If you managed to IPL on the first try you are in good shape.

I think the likelyhood of a scrapper carefully removing and locking the heads of the Winchester disk drive are near zero

toober
February 4th, 2016, 09:02 AM
I think the likelyhood of a scrapper carefully removing and locking the heads of the Winchester disk drive are near zero

At least the brakes on the spindle will be engaged - but still...

Anyway, it might be easier to wait for another S/34 to show up, rather than reconstruct this one. IBM made a lot of these, and they are still popping out of the woodwork.

--
Will

toober
February 4th, 2016, 09:06 AM
Also "those types of IC's" are just how IBM packaged their silicon. In the early days it was called SLT and unless you read the numbers on each chip it is impossible to tell one from another.

Is this not the case with any IC? No numbers means SOL, generally.

I am thinking specifically about all those wonderful Poly-Paks stuffed with completely unlabeled 14 pin DIPs.

--
Will

NeXT
February 4th, 2016, 09:28 AM
At least the brakes on the spindle will be engaged - but still...

Anyway, it might be easier to wait for another S/34 to show up, rather than reconstruct this one. IBM made a lot of these, and they are still popping out of the woodwork.

--
Will

If you were that determined to get a System/34, in that case I'd grab what I could simply to have just about every replacement part I might need (remember how we just discussed possibly bad and unobtanium IC's). Call it hoarding but it would be a waste otherwise and we've all learned the hard way something might be reportedly plentiful until we need it.

ThisPostContainsComputers
February 4th, 2016, 06:58 PM
I was thinking that I should just leave the main chassis, He says it has been outside for a few decades now and is all rusty and has "rodent activity". He says that all the boards, drives, and other electronics have been kept dry. I'm still waiting on pictures but if everything is in OK condition im probably just going to take it and see if I can get it to do something or just use if for parts. It does not come with any software or terminals so even if it was a whole unit there would still be lots of work to be done.

NeXT
February 4th, 2016, 07:20 PM
Terminals aren't that hard to get thankfully. Starting with the System/34 IBM rolled out the new line of 5250 Twinax terminals. You can usually get an InfoWindow for $30-$50 and the baluns to use twisted pair cabling instead of twinaxial cable for a few dollars more.


I'm still waiting on pictures but if everything is in OK condition im probably just going to take it and see if I can get it to do something or just use if for parts.
That seems pretty solid to me. Now keep your eyes out for another machine. :)

ThisPostContainsComputers
February 5th, 2016, 06:54 PM
I just got some images:

2941029411294122941329414

The cards have a bit of damage on some of them but overall where better than I expected them to be, it also seems to come with a sweet hard drive thing which im probably keeping for myself.

toober
February 6th, 2016, 11:09 AM
Hmmmm...leave it. That thing is a disaster. I suppose it would be nice if the boards were saved. S/34s just not rare enough to justify trying to save and restore something it that condition.

--
Will

ThisPostContainsComputers
February 7th, 2016, 07:50 AM
Yea, the machine is pretty trashed, but I dont plan to try to restore it and instead use it for spare parts if a come across another. It is only the drive, backplane, power supply, and cards. Im going to be leaving the chassis.

NeXT
February 7th, 2016, 08:16 AM
Yeah the boards were indeed worth the gamble but with the cover missing off at least one of the drives you might have useable disk frames (motors, belts and anything outside the HDA) but the HDA's themselves are probably toast from being left outside like that.

ThisPostContainsComputers
March 7th, 2016, 12:40 PM
Hello,

Well, the guy finally got back to me and has all the parts ready to go and I should be picking them up in a week or 2. On another note, he told me that he also has *a lot* of old Burroughs boards and these seems to be in pretty good condition. Should I be interested or not?
30010

nigwil
March 8th, 2016, 09:56 PM
Any chance of close-ups of the Burroughs boards? depending on what they're from I can suggest a few people who might be interested. thanks.

ThisPostContainsComputers
March 9th, 2016, 04:54 AM
Sure, I don't have a whole lot of pictures but here are a few
30044300453004630047
If you want I could ask for more

kyodai
March 11th, 2016, 02:13 PM
If you can get the burroughs boards for cheap then take them. Even if they are all broken they still have some collectors value on ebay, no matter what kind of board it is, it pretty much never sells under 10 dollars, so keep that in mind if the guy offers them for a good price.