IBM 5250

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IBM 3486 Terminal, a later terminal with 5250 functionality, capable of supporting two independent sessions concurrently, and with an amber screen. The original 5251-1 had a much smaller keyboard.[1]

IBM 5250 is a family of block-oriented terminals originally introduced with the IBM System/34 midrange computer systems in 1977.[2] It also connects to the later System/36, System/38, and AS/400 and System i systems, and to IBM Power Systems systems running IBM i.


5250 devices can be directly attached to the host or communicate remotely using Synchronous Data Link Control (SDLC) at up to 9600bit/s. Devices can also be clustered or daisy-chained.

In 1980 the 5250 system consisted of the following components:[3]

  • 5251 Display Station. The monochrome text-only display can be either 960 characters, formatted as 12 lines of 80 characters, or 1920 characters as 24 lines of 80 characters. Upper and lower case is standard. Text attributes consist of blink, high intensity, reverse video, non-display, underscore, and a unique column separator that causes the field to be preceded and followed by a vertical bar. 5251 and 5252 input format control attributes are optimized for data entry applications and offer significant enhancements over previous 3270 terminals.
  • 5252 Dual Display Station. The 5252 features a single CRT displayed 12 lines each on two different sides back to back in a single case, with separate keyboards. The 5252 was not part of the initial announcement.
  • 5256 printer. The 5256 is a tabletop serial dot matrix printer with three models providing speeds of 40, 60, or 120cps and a print line of 132 characters.

5251/5252 format control[edit]

Field attributes also define the type of data the operator can enter into a field, and specify other control information for the field.

  • A field can be defined as alpha only, numeric only, or alphanumeric.
  • Auto enter simulates an ENTER key press at the conclusion of the field.
  • Bypass automatically skips over a field in the screen.
  • Duplicate enable allows the operator to press the DUP key in a field, entering a special code which is interpreted by the application program – typically duplicating data in this field from the previous record or line.
  • Field exit required forces the operator to manually exit this field, rather than automatically advancing to the next field after entering the last character.
  • Mandatory entry specifies that the operator must enter data in this field and is not allowed to tab over it.
  • Monocase translates lower-case characters entered into this field to upper-case.
  • Mandatory fill specifies that this field must be entirely filled if any data is entered into it.
  • Right adjust will right adjust data entered in a field when the operator exits the field.
  • Signed numeric reserves the rightmost position of a field for a sign – blank for positive or '-' for negative.

Historical origins[edit]

The 5250 is a block-oriented terminal similar to, but not compatible with, the IBM 3270. Robustly constructed, 5251 terminals weigh roughly 36 kilograms (79 lb). The devices generate an audible clicking sound as the user types, similar to the electric typewriters of the era.

The 5250 data stream definition has been refined over time to include GUI elements such as pop-up windowing, check and option boxes, mouse handling, and pull-down menus. The term "5250" now refers to the data stream itself. Few physical 5250 terminals with their bulky twinax cables still exist, although they are occasionally still used to provide a "connection of last resort," hard-wired to the host computer. Today, it is more common to use PC or web-based terminal emulation packages that can interpret and display 5250 data streams.

Telnet 5250[edit]

Main Menu of IBM i 7.1 on a TN5250 emulator

Telnet 5250, or TN5250 describes either the process of sending and receiving 5250 data streams using the telnet protocol[4][5][6] or the software that emulates a 5250 class terminal communication via that process. TN5250 allows a 5250 terminal emulator to communicate over a TCP/IP network instead of an SNA network. Standard telnet clients cannot be used as a substitute for TN5250 clients, as they use a different data stream format.

Interfacing 5250 terminals with commodity hardware[edit]

An interface was created to connect to the Twinax port of a 5250 terminal and communicate with it like an AS/400 host.[7][8] It currently provides VT52 emulation and a shell on the system to which the adapter is connected.

List of IBM 5250 Twinax terminals[edit]

IBM 3179[edit]

The IBM 3179 exists as a 3270 and a 5250 terminal.

IBM 3180[edit]

The IBM 3180 exists as a 3270 and a 5250 terminal.

IBM 3196[edit]

80x24 characters.


  • 3196 model A10: Green screen.
  • 3196 model B10: Amber-Gold screen.

IBM 3197[edit]


  • IBM 3197 model C10 (1920 characters)
  • IBM 3197 model C20 (1920 characters)
  • IBM 3197 model D10 (3564 characters)
  • IBM 3197 model D20 (3564 characters)
  • IBM 3197 model D40 (15 inch green phosphor)

IBM 3476[edit]

IBM 3477[edit]


  • IBM 3477 model HAX (14-inch amber-gold monochrome monitor)
  • IBM 3477 model HGX (14-inch green monochrome monitor)
  • IBM 3477 model HCX (14-inch color monitor)
  • IBM 3477 model HDX (15-inch green monitor)

IBM 3486[edit]


  • IBM 3486 model BAX (14-inch amber-gold monitor)
  • IBM 3486 model BGx (14-inch green monitor)

IBM 3487[edit]


  • IBM 3487 model HAX (15-inch amber-gold monitor)
  • IBM 3487 model HCX (14-inch color monitor)
  • IBM 3487 model HGX (15-inch green monitor)

IBM 3488[edit]

Does not include an internal display. An external monitor is connected via VGA.

IBM 3489[edit]

Does not include an internal display. An external monitor is connected via VGA.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ An IBM System/34
  2. ^ IBM Corporation. "What was the IBM System/34?". Reference / FAQ / Products and Services. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
  3. ^ IBM Corporation (1978). IBM 5250 Information Display System: IBM 5251 Display Station IBM 5252 Dual Display Station IBM 5256 Printer Introduction (PDF).
  4. ^ Chmielewski, P. (February 1991). 5250 Telnet Interface. doi:10.17487/RFC1205. RFC 1205. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  5. ^ Murphy, Jr., T.; Rieth, P.; Stevens, J. (July 2000). 5250 Telnet Enhancements. doi:10.17487/RFC2877. RFC 2877. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  6. ^ Murphy, Jr., T.; Rieth, P.; Stevens, J. (November 2006). IBM's iSeries Telnet Enhancements. doi:10.17487/RFC4777. RFC 4777. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  7. ^
  8. ^

External links[edit]