I thought I’d post this as a bit of a trip down memory land and to record a little piece of history.
I believe this dates back to somewhere between 1988 and 1995. Back then the AS/400 was new and it came with a wonderful set of technical manuals. You could also obtain IBM Redbooks which were essentially deep dive worked case studies, showing how the technology could be applied to solve specific business problems. These days they would probably be YouTube Videos or long blog posts.
I recall we’d find out about a new Redbook and then have to order it from IBM Publications. Back then IBM also operated a Library where you could borrow copies of their manuals and Red Books. It seems hard to believe how difficult it used to be to get access to information before we all had widespread access to the web and it was indexed by Google. While we had Internet Access back then, most of the technical discussion was on Usenet groups, and if I recall correctly comp.sys.as400 was a fantastic resource for asking questions and finding out about new manuals and Red Books.
Installing and using the AS400 Softcopy CDROM
Imagine how excited we all were to hear that the whole library of manuals and then the Red Books were being released on CDROM. Of course back then most PCs didn’t have a CDROM drive as standard so we had to order a Soundblaster Pro Card and CDROM and install this on one of the PCs in the IT Office. That’s also back when most of the development and operations staff were still working from dumb 5250 terminals and it was unusual to have a PC on your desk.
Once you had this up and running it wasn’t exactly fast. The PCs of the time were slow, and the access and read speeds on the CD were slow with little buffering. Still, it was a major leap forward and improved problem-solving and access to data. I guess that by producing the CDROM it also positioned IBM to easily put all these manuals online a few years later.