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Thread: Thoughts on getting a IBM System/34

  1. #1

    Default Thoughts on getting a IBM System/34

    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

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThisPostContainsComputers View Post
    As far as I could see I could not find any schematics on the system
    try bitsavers.org/pdf/ibm/system34

  3. #3
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    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.
    Last edited by NeXT; February 3rd, 2016 at 04:31 PM.
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    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.

  5. #5

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    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

  6. #6
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    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.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeXT View Post
    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

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Al Kossow View Post
    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

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by NeXT View Post
    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

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    Quote Originally Posted by toober View Post
    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.
    = Excellent space heater

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