I have to admit that today has not been a very productive day, I should have been working, but decided that I would take the day off and have fun. Of course my idea of fun likely does not coincide with the average persons. After a day of visiting relatives and replete with turkey and all the fixings we headed for home.

Still not in work mode I looked around for trouble to get into. And I found a doozy!

However I do need to explain a little bit of history. I started in the computer industry in 1972. I worked with IBM mainframes, these were computers that filled an aircraft hanger. In fact, it was an aircraft hanger that I worked in! My first employer was the UK government, I worked in the field of Atomic Energy Research and within a 5 mile radius we had more computing power  than anywhere else in Europe. The preferred weapons were the really maxed out products from IBM, although we did also have a plethora of equipment from other manufactures as well. My favorite though were the IBM monsters. You could have hours of fun sitting at the console running the beasts.

These behemoths that required a large staff and in our case a permanent on site IBM tech in reality had little power when compared to todays world. The operating System was called MVT and later MVS (Multiple Virtual Storage), a boot of this beast was a dreaded event, and only happened after some horrible occurrence that had caused us to power down. These days we use the term Boot, back them it was an IPL (Initial Program Load). Pretty much you could bet your lunch that some component would not play ball, and hours would be spent by IBM hunting down the malfunction. Actually a standing joke was that you could gauge the severity of the problem by the number of suit jackets hung up.

MVS and many of its adjunct products Hasp, Jes2, TSO, VTAM, etc have long since ceased to be viable software products and a number of years ago IBM made them available in the Public Domain.

Several people with clearly way too much time on their hands have figured out a way to create an environment of the lowly PC where you can actually run these wonderful classic Operating Systems. Better still, one particularly enterprising soul has made it so that you do not have to rewind your brain back to the early 70’s and re-remember all of the less than joyous steps in bringing MVS to life. Suffice it to say that it was a lot more complex than inserting a CD and hitting the install icon!

So folks I spent a good deal of Christmas day, and into the wee hours of today recapturing my youth. If you are an old mainframe dinosaur this is some ‘freeware’ that you can not turn up. Hell even if you are of the Windows generation you might have fun plunging back in time to see how it used to be done. But I will offer a word of caution, there is a steep learning curve.

I am still fighting with the Fortran compiler, but I will get it working! For those of you that are old Cobol programmers there is also that compiler, in fact there is a plethora of products available.

Hercules is a fabulous product, and I recommend that you try the Turnkey system.

Simon Barrett

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