Running MVS on your own emulated Mainframe or…

… welcome to Jurassic Parc. The world of the Dinosaurs.

I’ve been a Java programmer since my very first days as a professional software engineer. Before that, I started programming with BASIC and Assembler on a Commodore +4. During my studies, is programmed C on an ATARI-ST or Solaris Workstations. My first job was in the military domain, where I helped create a RADAR system’s firmware. So, I really never touched this mystic world of IBM Mainframes.

In my later jobs, I went into the banking and insurance domain, and there were colleagues talking about very strange things. They used words I never heard before. Talking about “COPYSTRECKEN”, Partitioned Data Sets, Members, and Jobs. And they were using the programming language COBOL, which must be very cool. At least they were very enthusiastic about it. I was impressed by them sitting at their desks, using a text-driven terminal the whole day, and didn’t miss a mouse or a graphical UI. And the applications they implemented were very mission-critical. But the problems they had seemed to me so unbelievable. Why is it difficult to make a field some bytes longer? What the heck is a “COPYSTRECKE”… ISPF, MVS, TSO, JES2 all these things were absolutely strange to me. And since there were no open source systems available to this world, it kept strange to me.

That changes with the upcoming HERCULES emulator. This little, tiny program can start an entire IBM Mainframe on your personal computer. And with the TK4 setup available on the internet, you have a complete 1980s Mainframe running MVS and some software that can bring you into this strange world, especially if you add the Prince update.

So here are my first steps in this world of these IT dinosaurs.

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