When I was in high school, we had to go on work experience. I picked the IT department at my Dad's work. (This would have been 1997.) My Dad worked for a pharmaceutical manufacturer (not in IT, he was their quality assurance manager). They had a lot of Windows machines – I think they were still all Windows 3.x, they even still had some machines running just DOS – I think they also ran Netware, and they also did some programming in Visual Basic (not sure which version, VB6 didn't come out until 1998; VB5 came out in May 1997, so it could have been VB5, but was more likely VB4 or earlier.) But they also had a few AS/400s. I asked if I could have an account on one of the AS/400s, they wouldn't let me have one. I was disappointed. I got to sit next to one of the RPG programmers and look over his shoulder, that was the closest I got. He was using a 5250 emulator on a Windows 3.1 box (not sure which 5250 emulator he was using).
Since then I've always wanted to play with an AS/400 but never got much chance. I did create an account on pub400.com to poke around a bit. I was thinking about getting my own IBM i instance with IBM Cloud but they are super expensive (almost USD 400 a month). I guess that's only about USD 13 a day, I suppose I could afford to create one for just a weekend.
At my current job, we don't have much IBM kit. (I think we actually have some Linux on POWER boxes but no AIX or IBM i or mainframe.) At my old job, we had some AIX, IBM i and some mainframe, but they only ever let me near the AIX, for IBM i and mainframe it was always "you don't have a business need for access to that". At my old job I did once get given the task of porting some C code I wrote to AIX, that was fun. Pretty sure it would have run under PASE but never got to find out. (Not under ILE because it was all about manipulating Unix pseudoterminals)
A couple of things interest me:
- Exploring the undocumented internals of the operating system
- Porting open source software to PASE (probably not that hard) or to ILE (likely harder)