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IBM System/360 Green Card

I recently discovered a treasured artifact from my earliest days learning computer programming, an IBM System/360 Reference Data card, known as a "Green Card." This card dates back to about 1968, although I probably acquired it around 1970.


I scanned the card and I'm making it available for download as a PDF (11Mb). It is rather large, both in file size and in dimensions, it would print at full size at over 25 inches wide, although it folded into a nice 14 page format. You could easily tell who was an IBM/360 assembly language programmer because they always had a Green Card tucked in their shirt pocket, right behind their pocket protector.


I have my green card too.

I also have a yellow, pink and blue card (one is 370, one is 370/xa and one is 370/ESA)
actually, the 3 'cards' are small stapled books.


The collest thing at the University was to have the green card LAMINATED, the koolest of the Kool!

However, they tended to grow feet after that.

I was issued my green card in 1982 when I went to the Marine Corps COBOL programming course in Quantico VA. I traded it for a couple of IBM mugs years later at a VTAM Course at a IBM training faclility. Wish I still had it.

I believe I still have a green card packed away. When the yellow cards came out to replace the green card, I wrote at the top of the card "Green card". LOL.

I just found my Green Card from when I was an IBM Customer Engineer. Mine has a -6 on the document number which I think means version 6. X20-1703-6

[Interesting. I hadn't considered version numbers. I checked my PDF, it is numbered GX20-1703-9. --Charles]

Yup, got mine too, and I'm still working at IBM after 37 years - just amazing. So I was using it today when I had to look up some powers of two. It is still right on my desk next to my yellow card, laptop, 21" flat screen, KVM switch, and PS3 - my have things changed. Oh, BTW, I have X20-1703-3. It's getting a bit faded, but so am I.

[Always glad to hear the old Green Card still has practical use. I remember using that section constantly when I was first learning binary/hex/octal math. I looked card by the powers of two, ooh I never noticed that section 2^0 = 16^0, 2^4 = 16^1.. very interesting. --Charles]

I have my green card also. I retired July 2006. I cut my teeth on System/360 Basic Assembler Language. I loved that language. Is BAL being used anywhere these days?

[I have no idea, but surely there are legacy systems out there still running it, someone must maintain them. --Charles]

Back in 1970 ; when I started taking assembler Programming classes here at Miami Dade Jr College (north campus)Fla. I also had a green card but it got worn out and I never replace it.Flowchart template too. Its amazing how it all became "some what" prehistoric yet its foundation still remains solid in man's technical efforts by leaving it all behind with far advanced technics!

[I remember that flowchart template, I desperately wanted one but I never managed to get one for myself. --Charles]

I work at a Nursing/Assisted Living corp as maintenance and recently found a 360 flow chart stencil with symbols on it?????????

[I'd love to get my hands on one of those stencils. I tried to get a stencil back in the day, but they were even harder to get than a Green Card. --Charles]

Charles wrote that "but surely there are legacy systems out there still running it ( BAL ), someone must maintain them."

I am here to tell you that a good number of REALLY large companies, like United Airlines, the I.R.S., Manufacturers Hanover Bank, VISA, Continental Airlines, Marriott Hotels and others are today developing and enhancing systems on IBM mainframes running IBM's TPF operating system using Assembler Language ( its OLD name was BAL ). These folks NEED to process in excess of 10,000 TRANSACTIONS per second, and they get THAT kind of through put with Assembler Language on IBM System 390's, and newer machines.

The INTEL chips are like broken kiddies toys compared with the magnificent architecture of the IBM mainframes. But then you get what you pay for; i.e. $200 bucks for an INTEL chip vs. $7 millions for an IBM mainframe. And for $7 m. you DO GET a magnificent programming environment.

And I still have my 1968 IBM green card and my 2001 Principles of Operation.

I used IBM 360/44 at St Andrews University, Scotland in the late 1970s. It was already very long in the tooth, but it was a wonderful start in the world of programming.

I used Fortran IV, BAL, and of course, the dreaded JCL, all on punched cards. We didn't get the 2260 terminals and a programming editor until late in the day.

There is a nice series of colour photos here -


I'm afraid my green card is long gone. But if anyone still has one ...

Thanks for the IBM Green Card. I actually just needed some info from it...

[I am glad I could be of service. But what information did you need? Are you running a production IBM/360 system? Now I'm curious. --Charles]

Thank you very much!

Thanks for reminding me :-) Just found my old green card from 1971 as well as a buff card for the IBM 370 when I was working at Eaton Corporation - fond memories.

I must be getting old but also found a IBM 360 Principles of Operation from that time as well.

Those were the days. All those core dumps and trying to solve the program mainttenance issue. Michael Jackson certainly helped here (not the singer :-)

Cheers Loz

I cant imagine a 360 running anywhere. My work on those was a lifetime ago. To answer your curiousity, I want trying to confirm a ranking order of some special characters.

{Ah, good old EBCDIC. --Charles]

Ahhh, my baby 360. I was an IBM-Memorex CE fresh out of school and working that DASD cabling under the floor at Manufacturer's Hanover Bank in mid-town Manhatten circa 1970. Had my green card and couldn't live without it. I tell the 'youngsters' today about it and they can't grasp having to convert any base to any base. Too bad junior; get a PCP life!

Long live 360/75!
PS..got to love CCW, PSW....

You'll like this (but it's fifty megs).

The full last edition of the green card from IBM.

Thank you Richard Haley! I'm taking a job as an ALC programmer to upgrade a system from ALC to COBOL (head first into the 1980s), and I was looking for just that! I have several of my old green cards and the yellow card from my old ALC days, but had lost the yellow booklet. Also lost my orange CICS reference card, darn it.

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