IBM Terminals

Photo of IBM 3278 IBM 3278 Display Console

You are standing in a clearing in the Great Blue forest. Before you is a tree representing video-terminal products made by International Business Machines.

The tree's first branch emerges low on the trunk--where it almost hangs down into the mulch of punchcard chad. This old branch has the cryptic initials EBCDIC carved into it in a style that looks vaguely like the transit numbers on a check.

The second branch is not as hoary, and seems to have been grafted onto the trunk, higher up. The tattered red-white-and-blue remains of an American flag are tangled into the twigs, near what may have been an eagle's nest.

At the top of the tree, there is a new branch, green and leafy, but with sprouts intertwined in an intricate pattern.

There is an old camp stool here. Perhaps to your surprise, there are no mice here.

The page you are viewing concentrates on the particular features of IBM terminals and emulations of them. For information that applies in general to all video terminals, see the general information page.

IBM Terminal Information from the Archives...


Other Internet Resources

Links to vendor pages.

A partial list of dealers who sell new and used video terminals is here.

Some vendors of terminal-emulation software for PCs and Macintoshes have been claiming to "support" 3270 terminal emulation--when what the product actually supports is mere emulation of a Televideo terminal with a special keymap that a protocol converter has to interpret. (The protocol converter also gets to do the tricky work of the ASCII-to-EBCDIC code translation and asynchronous/bisynchronous communication bridging.) In some environments, this setup is what you want, but sometimes you want these functions handled within the PC--as other products do. Just be certain of what you are getting!

Internet RFCs (Requests For Comments)

Some effort was made in the late 1990s to improve the "tn3270" method of connecting IBM 3270 and 5250 terminals to hosts via TCP/IP. Read about it here.

Usenet Sources

You can access these newsgroups only if your Web browser is configured to read news from a news-server computer that receives them.

The following trademarks are claimed by IBM:
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Introductory material copyright © 1995
and archive contents collection copyright © 1995, 1999, 2003 Richard S. Shuford.

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Camp Stool

There is a use for the camp stool. If your boss has just told you that you've got to write a 3270 emulator program on a rush schedule, and you are still puzzled about what "EBCDIC" means, then the stool is to sit on and take deep breaths for a minute before you go on.

While you're resting, I might as well mention that it stands for Extended Binary-Coded-Decimal Interchange Code. Have a look at it.

While you are breathing, you could download some EBCDIC conversion tools. Enjoy the green lightning while you are here. And ponder the computing days of yesteryear, when EBCDIC was spawned for use on 80-column punched cards but migrated to other mechanisms. And perhaps you can wish that Mel was here to help you!

Well, Mel is no longer on the scene, but at least one interesting development has lately occurred: an EBCDIC version of the Apache Web Server software!

Click here when you are ready to go on....