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I > IBM  > 5120


 

This mini forum is intended to provide a simple means of discussion about the IBM  5120 computer. If you want to share your own experience or memories, or add relevant information about this system: post a message! For other purposes like sales messages, hardware & software questions or information requests, please use our main forum.

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Friday 31st March 2017
Joseph (Atlanta GA / USA)

I programmed a complete Property-Tax accounting system on one of these IBM 5120 computers, back in 1982... for City Hall in the town where I was living. The 5120 had 32K, no hard drive, just two 8-inch floppy disks, for programs and data. So: no real operating system either. It booted from ROM, and gave you a prompt in APL or BASIC.

As I recall, the style of BASIC was very limited/simplistic. For instance: no "FOR" looping, just use conditional branching. The "IF" statement only had syntax: "IF ABC $ X THEN 2500" where 2500 was a line number to GOTO when the IF-conditional was true. Even the 5120 Disk access was crude. IBM re-used old tape drivers, so the floppy disks would only understand FIXED length FILES, pre-allocated when created... so you needed to plan the Max size for a file in advance, and if that filled up, "too bad" you can''t extend file length... gotta re-build allocations, and copy to another 8" floppy.

However, despite computer''s limitations, I designed and coded a solid Tax accounting system that tracked property owner/address/value/zone for the whole town, calculated taxes, printed mailer statements, collected taxes, logged fees/fines, and allocated funds to appropriate city funds $ levees... which was running for as long as they kept the computer.

The IBM PC was brand new at the time, with more memory and a hard drive, and would have been a better choice$ but managers had already purchased the 5120, and stuck with it.
I guess one of the things I learned from that project is that the right skill for coding/design/efficiency/usability can make more difference than the computer it''s running on... and THAT remains true for system many years later.


Wednesday 29th October 2014
Kurt Zentmaier

Still have our IBM 5120 programed it back in 1980 as a 13 year old. It was my first experience with Basic programing. We also considered system 32 and 34 but my father settled on the 5120. I still like to turn on occasionally and pretend like it''s 1980 all over again. Also like the diagnostic switch on the monitor that lets you view the binary memory core. Have the displaywriter printer that came along with it. I seem to recall it costing about $13,000 or so. Looked at the Datamaster shortly after but we never took the leap.

kurt


Wednesday 29th October 2014
Kurt Zentmaier

Still have our IBM 5120 programed it back in 1980 as a 13 year old. It was my first experience with Basic programing. We also considered system 32 and 34 but my father settled on the 5120. I still like to turn on occasionally and pretend like it''s 1980 all over again. Also like the diagnostic switch on the monitor that lets you view the binary memory core. Have the displaywriter printer that came along with it. I seem to recall it costing about $13,000 or so. Looked at the Datamaster shortly after but we never took the leap.

kurt


Tuesday 11th March 2008
Italo (UTAH)

OMG! I can't believe it! I programmed a whole sales system on this computer in 1991. It was already old but the company that hired me wanted to use that old thing they had in storage for who knows how long. I used its BASIC, a very limited one I must say!!
Thanks for this excellent site!





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