Midrange computer

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IBM System/3, a midrange computer introduced in 1969

Midrange computers, or midrange systems, are a class of computer systems which fall in between mainframe computers and microcomputers.[1]

This class of machine emerged in the 1960s, with models from Digital Equipment Corporation (PDP line), Data General (NOVA), Hewlett-Packard (HP3000) widely used in science and research as well as for business - and referred to as minicomputers.[2]

IBM favored the term "midrange computer" for their comparable, but more business-oriented, systems.[3]

IBM System/38

IBM Midrange Systems[edit]

  • System/3 was the first of the IBM midrange systems (1969)[4]
  • System/32 (introduced in 1975) [5] was a 16-bit single-user system also known as the IBM 5320.
  • System/34 (1977) was intended as successor to both the 3 and the 32.
  • System/38 (1979) was the first Midrange system to have an integrated relational database management system (DBMS). The 38 had 48-bit addressing.
  • System/36 (1983) had two 16-bit processors with an operating system that supported multiprogramming.
  • AS/400 was introduced under that name in 1988, renamed eServer iSeries in 2000, and subsequently became IBM System i in 2006.
  • IBM System i was subsequently replaced by the IBM Power Systems in April 2008.
System/38 console


Since the 1990s, when the client–server model of computing became predominant, computers of the comparable class are instead usually known as servers[6] to recognize that they usually "serve" end users at their "client" computers.

Midrange systems are primarily high-end network servers and other types of servers that can handle the large-scale processing of many business applications[dubious ]. Although not as powerful as mainframe computers[dubious ][clarification needed], they are less costly to buy, operate, and maintain than mainframe systems and thus meet the computing needs of many organizations. Midrange systems have become popular as powerful network servers[7] to help manage large Internet Web sites, corporate intranets and extranets, and other networks. Today, midrange systems include servers used in industrial process-control and manufacturing plants and play major roles in computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). They can also take the form of powerful technical workstations for computer-aided design (CAD) and other computation and graphics-intensive applications. Midrange system are also used as front-end servers to assist mainframe computers in telecommunications processing and network management.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Estabrooks, Maurice (1995). Electronic technology, corporate strategy, and world transformation. Westport, Conn.: Quorum Books. p. 53. ISBN 0899309690.
  2. ^ Bell, Gordon (9 January 2015). "Rise and Fall of Minicomputers". Engineering and Technology History Wiki. Archived from the original on 5 April 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  3. ^ "1969 IBM System/3 promotional ad - midrange, minicomputer, Computer History, RPG". Computer History Archives Project. Netherlands.
  4. ^ "IBM System/3 announcement" (PDF).
  5. ^ "IBM System/32". IBM Corporation.
  6. ^ "now referred to as small or midsize servers." "Minicomputer". Britannica.com.
  7. ^ "PC Magazine, Definition of: midrange computer".