IBM 3090 Training

Between 2001 and 2004, I had an office in the home of the mainframes, IBM Poughkeepsie, in Building 705. As a Brit’, it wasn’t my natural home, also, I wasn’t a developer or a designer, as a software architect focusing in software and application architectures, it never felt like home.

IBM Library number ZZ25-6897.

One day, on my way to lunch at the in-house cafeteria, I walked by a room whose door was always closed. There was a buzz of people coming from it, and the door was open. A sign outside said “Library closing, Take anything you can use!”

I have some great books, a few of which I plan to scan and donate the output to either the Computer History Museum, or to the Internet Archive.

One of the more fun things I grabbed were a few IBM training laserdiscs. I had no idea what I’d do with them, I had never owned a laserdisc player. I just thought they’d look good sitting on my bookshelf. Especially since they are the same physical size as vinyl albums.

Now 16-years on, I’ve spent the last 4-years digitising my entire vinyl collection, in total some 2,700 albums. One of my main focus areas has been the music of Jazz producer, Creed Taylor. One of the side effects from that is I’ve created a new website, ctproduced.com – In record collecting circles, I’m apparently a completionist. I try to buy everything.

And so it was I started acquiring laserdiscs by Creed Taylor. It took a while, and I’m still missing Blues At Bradleys by Charles Fambrough. While I’ve not got around to writing about them in any detail, you can find them at the bottom of the entry here.

What I had left were the IBM laserdiscs. On monday I popped the first laserdisc in, it was for the IBM 3090 Processor complex. It was a fascinating throwback for me. I’d worked with IBM Kingston on a number of firmware and software availability issues, both as a customer, and later as an IBM Senior Software Engineer.

I hope your find the video fascinating. The IBM 3090 Processor was, to the best of my knowledge, the last of the real “mainframes”. Sure we still have IBM processor architecture machines that are compatible with the 3090 and earlier architectures. However, the new systems, more powerful, more efficient, are typically a single frame system. Sure, a parallel sysplex can support multiple mainframes, it doesn’t require them. Enjoy!

4 Responses to “IBM 3090 Training”


  1. 1 Kyle Smith June 26, 2020 at 2:05 pm

    I worked there as well between 2003 and 2007 (intern and then full-time), primarily in building 710. It took me several years to discover the library in 415 but it was fantastic, particularly because at one point the librarian said “tell me what books you think I should buy” so I gave her most of my Amazon wishlist. Definitely spoiled me and I’ve never had another employer that took it as seriously as IBM did with their international network of them.

    • 2 Mark Cathcart June 26, 2020 at 3:09 pm

      Hey Kyle, thanks for the comment. Yes, IBM had an online ordering system that you could order published books through. Managers had a budget for this, and it seemed “flexible” in so much as none of my managers ever complained about external books I’d ordered. Also, once “e-booksd” (is that a thing?) became popular outside of PDF and Bookmanager Read IBM manuals, we could access and read them online.

      I’m hoping to be able to contribute a number of books about or from IBM to the Internet Archive once my delayed book scanner arrives.

      Stay safe!!

  2. 3 Kevin October 31, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    I feel awful because I tossed out heaps of training CDs on the IBM AS400 I used to use back in the 90s.

    • 4 Mark Cathcart October 31, 2020 at 7:27 pm

      Don’t, a couple of reasons why the AS400 cd’s got thrown out. A couple of reasons why isn’t as bad, unless they were internal confidential.

      First, a lot of the material that went into the CDs was digital and this usually still exists. Second, there were millions of AS400 systems shipped, they’ll be out there somewhere and possibly already at the Computer History Museum waiting to be put online.

      What makes the laserdiscs interesting is that the original material is analogue on media like VHS which doesn’t age well. Also, there are few laserdisc players around that work well.

      If you ever come anything worth preserving, let me know. Thanks for the comment.


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About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, formally a Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group; before that Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell. Prior to that, I was IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I am a Fellow of the British Computer Society (bsc.org) I'm an information technology optimist.


I was a member of the Linux Foundation Core Infrastructure Initiative Steering committee. Read more about it here.

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