Designed to Succeed, Built for Business

AS/400 has a storied history. It has been predominantly successful, but often given up for dead. First came Vax. Then Unix. Next, Client/Server computing. Now Windows NT. AS/400 lives on, remaining one of the world’s most popular commercial multi-user business computers.

A three-year-old Annex Research Report described us this way: "Born in 1988. Rose to fame in 1989. Hurt by the ‘open systems’ trend in 1990. Rebounded in late 1990-1991. Slowed by a European slump and IBM’s general malaise in 1992-1993. Bounced back in the second half of 1994. Poised for solid growth in 1995 and beyond by the power of 64-bit chip technology."

Today, a full decade after its much-heralded launch in 1988, the AS/400 business continues to thrive. It’s 10 years old, still a "crown jewel" among IBM’s computers and, more importantly, still delivering significant value to business partners and customers worldwide. AS/400 offers customers the best of both worlds – support and service, as well as hot new technologies like Web serving, highly scalable native Lotus Domino, 100 percent pure Java, business intelligence and enterprise resource planning (ERP).

Clearly, AS/400 is a product whose time has come, a product designed and built for business. It has undergone significant transformation over the last 10 years. Not just in style of computing, but also in looks, image and in the increasing value it is providing customers. Twice a year new function and significantly-enhanced performance (up to 70 percent a year) are added to the platform. This year we achieved record scalability (10,400 active Notes users) and the lowest ever cost-per-user running Domino for AS/400.

Customers and business partners have responded, helping us achieve three consecutive quarters of double-digit revenue growth. AS/400 remains a highly popular product for customers, independent software providers and business partners. More than 500,000 AS/400s have been installed worldwide, with one AS/400 installed somewhere in the world every 12 minutes. Twenty-four million users sign onto an AS/400 every single day. Ninety-three of the Fortune 100 companies and 850 of the Fortune 1000 companies have chosen the platform.

Then there are the innovators. The people of AS/400, like Dr. Frank Soltis, one of the original system architects. They must have had a crystal ball, anticipating new technologies five, 10, 20 years before they were a twinkle in the eyes of most scientists. The Rochester lab and manufacturing people, in collaboration with other IBM labs around the world, conceived, designed and built a system architecture that is second to none. It’s flexible enough to integrate almost any function, any technology customers require to run their businesses.

Consider this: Many companies today are just now discovering the advantages of integrating components that a business needs into the base software shipped with a server. AS/400 has been delivering this for 10 years.

Java concepts introduced today mimic AS/400’s Technology Independent Machine Interface (TIMI), the backbone of the AS/400 architecture. It’s a tribute to AS/400 to realize others are just implementing concepts we’ve had already designed into our systems for 20 years, dating back to System/38. It is part of the reason we can offer one of the industry’s leading Java Virtual Machines, which is 100 percent Sun Java compliant.

The innovations continue. Each year, the AS/400 development laboratory in Rochester (Minn.) is granted an average of 70 new patents for technical innovations created for AS/400. There are many technological firsts, including:

  • The first system to market with 64-bit RISC technology that you could use. To this day, AS/400 is the only server that has 64-bit applications, running on a 64-bit operating system that contains a 64-bit relational database that fully exploits 64-bit hardware. It’s the industry’s first and only complete 64-bit computing environment.
  • The first system to ship memory cards with 1Mb, 4Mb and 16Mb technology.
  • The First to deliver RAID-5 technology to the business environment.
  • The First to market with 3.5-inch DASD units.
  • The First to ship bi-polar CMOS technology.
  • The First to deliver Symmetric Multiprocessor technology to the business environment.
  • And, the First operating system to be certified Year 2000-ready by the Information Technology Association of America.

The single thought that pervades every aspect of AS/400’s design is that it’s a platform built for business. Most other systems had their origins elsewhere – in personal computing or engineering and scientific computing. Subsequently, they moved into business applications. AS/400 is the only system that can claim to be a thoroughbred business computer. It was built for business from the start, and optimized for business in a way no other system can claim.

It’s a great time to be associated with AS/400. We know who we are, and we know where we’re headed. We will continue to introduce the latest technologies and our goal is to lead, not follow. While most of the rest of the world is still trying to figure out how to advance from 16- and 32-bit computing, for example, AS/400 is poised to face the challenges of the next 10 years with enough computer addressing to carry it well into the next millennium, from 64-bits to as high as 128-bits.

Yes, AS/400 is 10-years-old, but in the words of baseball legend Satchel Paige, "Age is like mind over matter. If you don’t mine, it doesn’t matter."

What really matters is that we deliver value to customers, continue doing what we’re doing and more. This includes delivering all the technologies they need, tightly coupled with our core values – the AS/400 traditional strengths of reliability, scalability and security. And all this is backed by IBM’s legendary support and service.