Meet the Man Operating His Enterprise on a 1967 Mainframe! Plus Hugo Award Nominee Galactic Journey!

Not too long ago I used to be studying a Fb group about classic mainframe techniques and I almost fell out of my chair when somebody casually talked about they run their  2022 enterprise on 1967-era IBM mainframe.No means!Sure means, truly.  To be clear, it’s an emulated system (operating precise Nineteen Sixties {hardware} in 2022 can be stratospherically costly, if it was even attainable to supply and keep).  Nonetheless, we’re speaking about 24-bit computing from an period of punch playing cards, from a time earlier than Home windows, Unix, the Web, and even floppy disks.And sure, he’s utilizing a Raspberry Pi.We’ve talked about classic mainframe techniques as a hobbyist endeavor up to now, and I actually have an “$8 million-dollar mainframe” at residence, operating IBM MVS 3.8j on the Hercules emulator on a Linux VM.  My expertise with that neighborhood has been that many individuals are geeking out on previous tech, taking part in with COBOL, looking down IBM utilities, and usually hacking on these techniques (within the constructive sense of the phrase) for the enjoyment of hacking.However truly doing productive work in 2022 on such a system?  Operating what you are promoting on one!?  And he’s utilizing Gopher too?!?   To be sincere, after I noticed Gopher I used to be a bit hesitant as a result of it appeared like a random expertise to throw in, however as you’ll see, the rationale it was chosen is smart.I needed to get an interview.  And to my delight, it became two interviews!  Not solely is Joshua utilizing an emulated mainframe to handle his enterprise, however he’s serving to Serling-Award profitable and Hugo-nominated web mission Galactic Journey run one as properly.For many who don’t know, the Hugo Awards are the Oscars of science fiction.  Getting nominated for one is a Huge Deal.Galactic Journey started in 2013 – or 1958 from their perspective.  As they put it, “The Traveler and his staff dwell in 1967, frequently commuting 55 years into the long run to jot down about then-contemporary science fiction and fantasy, notably fiction present in magazines. ”   You’re getting a each day window again 55 years in time, dwelling life via the eyes of “The Traveler” who stories kind the angle of that point.  (Take a look at the media they’ve accomplished.   In addition they are enjoyable to observe.)  Naturally, in the event you’re dwelling in 1967, you want a mainframe to actually perceive the time, therefore their curiosity.  That interval is notable for the discharge of IBM’s OS/360 (1966), a landmark in working system improvement.Now learn on for a captivating learn that includes:Joshua Lamb, proprietor of a number of ventures in Pennsylvania and classic mainframe enthusiastGideon Marcus, founding father of Galactic JourneyJoshua, let’s begin with you.  You’re the proprietor of an vintage digital restore store. What’s it you restore precisely?Joshua: Really that’s one in all 3 small enterprise ventures that I’ve. For my vintage digital restore store, I work to revive mechanical and vacuum electron tube units like radios, amplifiers and phonographs. For my different enterprise I’m half proprietor in Caspers Cabinet. A craft present/vendor honest enterprise that sells handmade incense and important oils. ‘And my ultimate one, I work as a part-time handyman doing residence repairs for the aged round my city.. All of my ventures unitize the digital IBM System 370 operating IBM OS-MVT a technique or one other.Gideon, what’s the Galactic Journey mission all about?Gideon: Galactic Journey is nothing lower than a time machine. It goes only one means—to precisely 55 years in the past. Thus, as I write this, it’s at present September 12, 1967. Yesterday was the eleventh, tomorrow is the thirteenth. We began out simply means again in October 1958 (2013) writing articles each different day overlaying science fiction magazines and the newest house photographs. Over time, our protection expanded to incorporate nearly each English language phrase of science fiction printed (in books, magazines, even fanzines), but additionally contextual issues like vogue, politics, music, artwork, and extra.Past that, our scope has grown. We now have a museum, a information service, a radio station, a lounge, and as of this yr…an IBM/360!The objective of the Journey is to shine a light-weight on as we speak by spotlighting yesterday. The resonance between the 2 eras is placing and instructive to even the informal pupil of historical past. We’re combating over the identical issues, having fun with the identical pleasures, experiencing the identical phenomena. Plus, there may be a number of nice literary artwork by undersung creators—we carry them again for folk to find!Earlier than we get into tech, I’d prefer to ask your perspective on a pair fashionable tendencies.  Joshua, looks like as we speak all the pieces is disposable as an alternative of electronics of previous.  If you happen to return to the Thirties, radios had been heirloom items.  At one time, televisions, toasters, and the like had been routinely repaired however as we speak they’re tossed within the trash and a alternative is ordered from Amazon. Are most fashionable electronics repairable?Joshua: It actually does rely on the gadget! I routinely repair house heaters for individuals. 90% of the time the facility change is at fault for his or her failure. As soon as a circuit board is added to one thing it does turn into extra sophisticated to restore however generally will be repaired relying on the design. Why did incandescent gentle bulbs promote 10,000 hours again within the Nineteen Nineties and now they solely promote 1,000 hours. Companies have purposely designed deliberate obsolescence to power individuals to purchase replacements as an alternative of repairing older. ‘And plenty of occasions, they’ve purposely designed mechanisms to cease issues from being repaired. Like completely gluing instances collectively or utilizing fasteners that purposely break upon opening the case.And from the person from 1967, what’s your tackle the fashionable digital development, like Kindle, versus the paper path and books of previous?Gideon: I actually get pleasure from books—the scent, the texture, the convenience with which one can flip to different pages for reference. And I believe books, notably nonfiction books, had been higher written again once they had been the first supply of data. I don’t hate e-books, and I definitely worth the Web and what it might supply. However given the chance, I exploit my offline library over the pc.What are your guys’ IT backgrounds?Joshua: I labored in tech help and mainframe operations for IBM Company on the Eckerd Drug and Unisource accounts throughout a 20 yr time frame.Gideon: I couldn’t have gotten it off the bottom with out the laborious work of Joshua, who I perceive labored on IBM mainframes for a lot of his life.I began in IT as a tech help flunkie in 1995, ultimately changing into an IT Supervisor for a division of Revlon. I’m type of an IT generalist, and I’ve had IT obligations as the entire corporations I’ve been concerned with during the last 20 years. Presently, I’m the system operator for Journeyvac, whereas Joshua is the techniques engineer. The man who made MVT 21.8 offers us welcome recommendation sometimes, so I suppose he’s the techniques analyst.So Joshua, the rationale for the interview: I noticed in a Fb group that you simply run what you are promoting on an emulated IBM mainframe. You’re operating MVT 21.8 on the Hercules mainframe emulator. MVT was launched in 1967 and I believe 21.8 was 1972ish? To place this in perspective for our readers, we’re on the daybreak of multiuser techniques with 24-bit OSes right here (max reminiscence 16MB). Most individuals as we speak would assume you couldn’t run a watch on that, but you’ve received what you are promoting operating on it. In fact, of their day, the world’s largest enterprises ran on these techniques. Anyway, please inform us all about your setup!Joshua: Effectively at present I’ve two Raspberry PI B (1st era) servers doing the job. I’ve just lately obtained an IBM System 3200x from a storage sale for $50 and can ultimately transfer to that system. The 3200x is an X86 enterprise server and much more highly effective than a Raspberry PI. ‘However as for the PIs… they’re 700mHz ARM processors every with 512meg of ram. First PI is used because the web server and second PI is used because the mainframe host. The web server makes use of HTML and PHP for the website. When a buyer has web interplay, equivalent to inserting an order or sending us a message from the website, the SUBMIT on the HTML kind kicks off a PHP program that takes the entered information and codecs it right into a JCL job. Then PHP submits the job to the mainframe by way of the NetCat utility in Debian to the Hercules digital card reader – socket gadget. The mainframe runs the job and updates all the required information units.You’re utilizing MVT 21.8, however there are later free mainframe OSes out there. Why MVT?Joshua: Easy reply is simplicity! I needed a system that I can retailer information and manipulate it when wanted. MVS 3.8j can be out there for obtain however it’s much more detailed than what I wanted. My mainframe has two customers so I don’t want RACF safety, or an ISPF utility [a combination file-browser/editor/IDE text-UI application –raindog308]. I don’t want any fancy broadcast messages welcoming me after I sign up with a cute textual content graphic. MVS 3.8j comes with JES2 [JES is a batch management system –raindog308], which is what I used at IBM for years, and after utilizing MVT 21.8f with ASP 3.2 (JES3) for job entry and queue administration… I ended up liking it much more. Kevin Leonard put collectively an MVT 21.8f TurnKey that may be very full.  Manner simpler then operating system era from scratch. He documented it properly too which was fantastic when studying ASP.Gideon, why did you select MVT 21.8?Gideon: This was a deliberate alternative. As you notice, MVT got here out in 1967, the yr the Journey at present is in. In truth, the inspiration got here after I watched a brief NASA movie on Gemini, which talked about how NASA had simply upgraded from the IBM 7094 to the IBM /360. This prompted me to solid about to see if a great emulator had been developed. Thus, I discovered Hercules. By way of a Fb mainframe group, I discovered Joshua.So on the mainframe, you’re storing buyer, order, and gross sales information. How is that organized? VSAM?  Gideon, what are you doing together with your set up?Joshua: VSAM doesn’t exist in OS/360-MVT. Catalogs had been initially supplied in OS/360 within the type of CVOLs. All my information is organized in sequential and partition information units by mounted column width and generally free kind textual content storage. Image this if you’ll, a spreadsheet that’s solely textual content, with columns beginning at particular column numbers thus making up the info set. That’s how I retailer my information.Gideon: The set up is model new, so we’re not storing something there but. In the end, I’d like customers to make use of it for writing and operating packages. Joshua has developed a primitive e-mail system, too, so people can chat with one another.Joshua, I’m guessing you wrote the enterprise code (creating invoices, marking them paid, updating stock, and so on.) your self. What languages are you utilizing on the mainframe facet?Joshua: This truly was the toughest half! For essentially the most half I’m utilizing RPG which is not any straightforward job to be taught. ‘And, I’m in no way a grasp at it. I attempted my hand at COBOL too however it ended up being too wordy for my easy duties. RPG made essentially the most sense and I pulled my hair out quite a few occasions whereas figuring it out. The SORT program in MVT can be my buddy. Between the 2, I even have the system doing what I would like. There isn’t any system scheduler in my model of MVT so I exploit CRON to submit the JCL job stream to the digital card reader by way of the Linux NetCat utility.I additionally noticed you’re all utilizing the venerable Gopher protocol! What’s its function in your world?Joshua: I used to be late to the Gopher world. I bear in mind Gopher from years in the past however by no means used it. So, after I wanted to have the ability to share some mainframe digital printer output, Gopher got here to thoughts as an answer. I initially did easy HTML however switched to Gopher simply to be completely different. Because of Linux open supply pygopherd server I’m glad I did, it’s works nice for my goal particularly since a lot mainframe output depends on mounted width fonts like Courier. HTML, except specified, loves variable fonts like Ariel by default. Gopher is mounted width proper from begin.You talked about another applied sciences (Debian, PHP, OpenVPN) so clearly you’re not some crusty old-timer who refuses to get out of the 70s. Appears like what you are promoting setup is a labor of affection.Joshua: OpenVPN is used I can entry the webserver and mainframe from wherever, however I nonetheless want some factor of privateness particularly when utilizing my cellular phone for distant entry. Primarily I simply didn’t need my mainframe and server login prompts being public for the world to search out.Take a look at The Journey Present – it’s enjoyable!And Gideon, because you’re dwelling in 1967,  setup is a labor of affection?Gideon: Or madness. Typically I’m wondering.Critically, we’re doing it as a result of it’s a piece of computing historical past nearly inaccessible to anybody underneath 45. Punch playing cards, line printers, IPL, DASDs—that complete means of interacting with computer systems. I used to be born in ’74, and my first expertise was with the Atari 8 Bit. Primitive by as we speak’s requirements, however extremely person pleasant comparatively. My solely brush with the mainframe world was a VAX FORTRAN class I took in ’93, and dealing with an IBM AS400 within the late 90s.It was once attainable to entry a CDC 6500 at Seattle’s Pc Historical past Museum, however it’s closed now and all of the engineers and technicians laid off. It’s heartbreaking. I needed to recreate a chunk of the previous world earlier than there was nobody left who may pull it off.Anything you’d prefer to share about your classic mainframe world?Joshua: I’m 43 years previous, I’ve an appreciation and love for the mainframe setting. I’ve seen the advantages of utilizing a mainframe in my previous profession alternatives. Nothing I’ve ever seen is simpler at processing giant quantities of knowledge than utilizing a mainframe. My objective was for a easy system, doing easy duties, with a fundamental goal… and I discovered that utilizing Hercules and MVT 21.8f. I do know very properly I may do all the pieces in Linux and use BASH script, or PHP, to do the very same factor… however what enjoyable would that be! ;-)Gideon: I’m studying loads! There’s nothing like hands-on expertise to show you concerning the previous. I hope others will request logons to allow them to play with Journeyvac when it goes dwell this November!JourneyVac has entered Stage 2: it’s operational and taking purposes for LOGONs.Do you need to play with an actual mainframe, 1967-style? That is your likelihood!— Galactic Journey (@journeygalactic) September 22, 2022 Dread Lord of LowEnd Content material at LowEndBoxI’m Andrew, techno polymath and long-time LowEndTalk neighborhood Administrator. My technical pursuits embrace all issues Unix, perl, python, golang, shell scripting, classic working techniques equivalent to MVS, and relational database techniques equivalent to Oracle, PostgreSQL, and MySQL.I additionally get pleasure from utilizing LEBs! I’ve an empire of little guys for VPNs, bigger guys for apps, and large guys for databases and storage. Once I’m not in entrance a display screen I am into German Shepherd canine, high quality knives, goal capturing, theology, tabletop roleplaying video games, and forest mountaineering.I get pleasure from writing technical articles right here on LowEndBox to assist individuals get extra out of their techniques. You could find me on LowEndTalk @raindog308Latest posts by raindog308 (see all)

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