IBM announced its System/36 on May 16, 1983, to combine "data processing, word processing, business color graphics and office management functions in a low-cost, easy-to-use computer for first-time and experienced users."
The System/36 had been developed by the company's Rochester, Minn., laboratory and was manufactured in Rochester; Guadalajara, Mexico; Fujisawa, Japan and Santa Paloma, Italy. On May 1986, IBM delivered its 100,000th System/36 -- which had been built in Rochester -- to Continental Insurance's headquarters in New York City.
The System/36 was designed with exceptional configuration flexibility to satisfy a wide range of users. For example, customers could use the IBM 5362 system unit, a very compact, entry-level model that offered main storage from 128K to 512K characters, and a disk storage from 30 million to 120 million. The company also offered the IBM 5360 system unit (main storage of 128K to 1024K; disk storage of 30 million to 400 million characters; available in 12 models), and the IBM 5363, IBM 5371 and IBM 5373 system units.
In addition, the System/36 also utilized the IBM 5225 printer, IBM 3262 printer, IBM 8809 tape drive and IBM 5294 remote control unit, and could be used with a variety of specialized terminals such as the IBM 5260 retail system.
By 1994, the System/36 had been effectively succeeded by the IBM AS/400 midrange computer family, and the company was advising customers to trade in their System/36s and System/38s to receive credit toward the purchase of an AS/400 9404 Model 135 or Model 140.