Hopefully all our readers are familiar with the beloved IBM Redbooks. But our younger readers might not be familiar with Redbooks’ older cousins – Orange books, Yellow books, Blue books, and Green books. These books (called IBM Technical Bulletins) were very similar in concept to Redbooks, however they were published by IBM’s Systems Centers rather than the International Technical Support Organization (ITSO). Sadly, they were discontinued in the mid-1990s and (to my knowledge) were never available from IBM in PDF format as Redbooks are.
Despite their age (a few date back to 1980!) some of them still contain information that you will not find elsewhere. After all, most things we have in z/OS today were built on a foundation created 20, 30, or even 40 years ago. And as IBM moved to Object-Code-Only (meaning that it did not provide customers with the source for software products), a lot of information that is provided in the Technical Bulletins is no longer available anywhere else.
For those of us that are very familiar with these books, their demise, and the inability to access them, can be very frustrating. This was brought to a head when I was working on a Tuning Letter article recently. I was speaking to the IBM developer about how the function worked, and he said “You know, THE best place to find out about this is in Orange book GG22-nnnn, published in 1980”. After that, Cheryl and I approached IBM to see if they would be willing to let us host these old Technical Bulletins on our website. We were delighted to get their approval earlier this week. The first three books are available on our new IBM Systems Center Books web page now, and we have already been promised more.
Most ‘experienced’ system programmers have a few of these Technical Bulletins stashed away under their desk, in an old closet, or on their bedside table. If you would be willing to scan them to a PDF and email them to us, we will add them to the site where they can benefit the entire mainframe community. We hope that you will find this repository of mainframe information to be helpful. Please make sure you pass this information along to your colleagues and peers in other companies. We also want to thank all the folks in IBM that helped us get approval to do this.