4690 Operating System

4690 Operating System, sometimes shortened to 4690 OS or 4690 is a specially designed Point of Sale operating system, originally sold by IBM; however, in 2012 IBM sold its retail business, including this product, to Toshiba, who now supports it.[1] 4690 is widely used by IBM and Toshiba retail customers to drive retail systems running their own applications as well as IBM's Application Client Server Environment (ACE), Supermarket Application (SA), General Sales Application (GSA), and Chain Drug Sales Application (CDSA).

4690 Operating System
Developer(Digital Research, Novell, IMS) IBM, Toshiba
Written inC
Working stateCurrent
Initial release1993 (1985)
Latest release6.5 / 2016 (2016)
Marketing targetPoint of Sale
Available inEnglish
Package managerProprietary ASM (Apply Software Maintenance) System
PlatformsPOS terminal devices
Kernel typeProprietary
Default user interfaceCursor-based text interface with some screens spawning a Java-based GUI environment
Preceded byFlexOS 386, 4680 OS, REAL/32
Official website4690 Operating System

It is the follow-on product to IBM 4680 OS, which had been in use by IBM's customers since 1986.[2] The original IBM 4680 OS was based on Digital Research's Concurrent DOS 286,[3] a system soon later renamed into FlexOS 286.

In July 1993[2] IBM adopted FlexOS version 2.32 as the basis of their IBM 4690 OS Version 1.[1][4] FlexOS 2.32 supported 286 and 386 modes and had no limit on applications running concurrently.

In 1995 IBM licensed IMS REAL/32 7.50, a derivation of Digital Research's Multiuser DOS and thereby a successor to Concurrent DOS 386, to bundle it with their 4695 POS terminals.[5]

According to "The Year of the Store?", IHL Consulting Group/RIS News, IBM 4690 OS still had a market share of 12% in the POS register/client market in June 2005, when IBM was starting to phase it out in favour to IBM Retail Environment for SUSE (IRES).[2]

IBM continued to maintain 4690 OS up to April 2015, with the most recent version released by IBM in May 2012 being IBM 4690 OS Version 6 Release 3, which was supported until 2017 under special contracts with big-name companies.

Meanwhile, Toshiba has released Toshiba 4690 OS Version 6 Release 4 (V6R4) in January 2014, as well as Version 6 Release 5 (V6R5) in January 2016.

Retailers are using the 4690 Operating System for their operations because of its many retail-specific and reliability features. In addition to running on IBM hardware, third-party vendors have taken advantage of the 4690 features on competitive hardware.

Supported hardware

4690 supports a number of Point of Sale (POS) terminal devices, store controller servers, and combination controller/terminals. The 4690 documentation contains a list of supported POS devices, including devices that have been in use over 20 years. The family of IBM USB POS devices that 4690 supports includes keyboards, displays, and cash drawers. 4690 also supports other I/O devices that are designed to and conform to IBM's USB POS device interface specifications. IBM makes interface specifications available to third-party vendors to enable them to connect their devices to POS terminals using RS485, RS232, and USB connections.

IBM provides a "Controller Matrix" document with a list of compatible IBM servers for use with 4690 OS as store controllers and controller/terminals. These servers represent current and formerly available devices which continue to be supported by 4690.

Notable features

Perhaps the most notable feature of the 4690 OS is its ability to provide a "redundancy infrastructure". IBM designed the 4690 OS to work either as a single server, or with one or more other 4690 servers. These servers are commonly called "store controllers". When connected in a LAN, these 4690 store controllers provide redundant backup using mirrored data files. Using a system of "master controller", "alternate master", "file server", and "alternate file server" designations, the controllers preserve data integrity and allow file backup in the event that a store controller fails and needs to be replaced.

A copy of the 4690 OS is maintained in each store controller. The 4690 POS terminals (registers) load a copy of 4690 from the store controller into memory when they Initial Program Load (IPL). The 4690 controllers provide terminal support in the form of terminal loading, price lookup, and transaction logging. Non-volatile memory is utilized to ensure that data is not lost in transit from the terminals to the store controller. Terminals are assigned to a primary store controller, and that controller is typically backed up by another controller. If the primary controller fails, the terminals automatically access the backup controller, providing uninterrupted sales at the POS terminal. If both the primary and backup controllers are unavailable, the terminal can go into a standalone state, or, some of the applications are capable of supporting a "Terminal Offline" (TOF) state wherein terminals run offline using a terminal-based item file and logging stored within their own memory.

In order to maintain software at the store level, 4690 OS provides a software maintenance facility to manage updates. This facility provides checking to ensure that all updates have been transferred to the store, and the ability to apply the maintenance from store level commands or under central control. The updated software can be applied in "test", which preserves the prior software in case the maintenance needs to be backed off for some reason.

4690 supports communications to the store controller in several forms. including TCP/IP, X.25, SNA, and asynchronous communications.


The following list of commands are supported by the 4690 Operating System.[6]

Technology and software

4690 OS has been updated annually to address the needs of its user community and in anticipation of upcoming requirements.

4690 Version 5 incorporated new security enhancements, such as SSH, IPSec, and enhanced operator security (allowing alphanumeric operator IDs, password complexity requirements, password expiration, etc.). This has helped its users address new security requirements from the credit card companies.

Another recent addition to 4690 was the capability to forward store hardware- and software-level events to a Remote Management system to facilitate central control and monitoring. File integrity monitoring and lockdown of 4690s are becoming increasingly important due to recent breaches caused by point-of-sale-malware based threats.

4690 supports applications written in IBM 4680 BASIC (a variant of CBASIC), Metaware High-C, and Java 2. The Java language-based capability at both the server and the client, along with the extension of TCP/IP capability to the client, enables Java applications at both the server and client to run concurrently with existing CBASIC or C applications. Users can make functional enhancements to existing applications by developing a new Java application that communicates with an existing application.


  • IBM 4690 Operating System Version 1 (July 1993)
  • IBM 4690 Operating System Version 2 Release 1
  • IBM 4690 Operating System Version 2 Release 2
  • IBM 4690 Operating System Version 2 Release 3
  • IBM 4690 Operating System Version 2 Release 4
  • IBM 4690 Operating System Version 3 Release 1
  • IBM 4690 Operating System Version 3 Release 2
  • IBM 4690 Operating System Version 3 Release 3
  • IBM 4690 Operating System Version 4 Release 1
  • IBM 4690 Operating System Version 4 Release 2
  • IBM 4690 Operating System Version 5 Release 1
  • IBM 4690 Operating System Version 5 Release 2
  • IBM 4690 Operating System Version 6 Release 1
  • IBM 4690 Operating System Version 6 Release 2
  • IBM 4690 Operating System Version 6 Release 3 (May 2012)
  • Toshiba 4690 Operating System Version 6 Release 4 (January 2014)
  • Toshiba 4690 Operating System Version 6 Release 5 Classic / Enhanced (January 2016)[7]

See also

Further reading

  • IBM 4690 OS V6.2 Programming Guide (PDF). IBM.
  • IBM 4690 OS V6.2 Configuration Guide (English) (PDF). IBM.
  • IBM 4690 OS V6.2 User's Guide (English) (PDF). IBM.
  • IBM 4690 OS V6.2 Communications Programming Guide (PDF). IBM.
  • IBM 4690 OS V6.2 Messages Guide (PDF). IBM.
  • IBM 4690 OS V5.2 Programming Guide (PDF). IBM.
  • IBM 4690 OS V5.2 Configuration Guide (English) (PDF). IBM.
  • IBM 4690 OS V5.2 User's Guide (English) (PDF). IBM.
  • IBM 4690 OS V5.2 Communications Programming Guide (PDF). IBM.
  • IBM 4690 OS V5.2 Messages Guide (PDF). IBM.
  • IBM 4690 OS V4.1 IBM 4680 BASIC Language Reference (PDF). IBM.

These and many other documents could be obtained from IBM at the Retail Publications Download Center.[8]

In 2016, Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions, the current owner of 4690 OS, removed public access to all 4690 related manuals and publications from their servers.


  1. "IBM 4690 Operating System". IBM. Archived from the original on 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
  2. "How to choose the best OS for your point-of-sale" (PDF). 360Commerce. Novell. 2005. (NB. This PDF has a short history of POS operating systems, also mentioning IBM 4680 and IBM 4690.)
  3. CBR, ed. (1987-01-15). "Digital Research launches FlexOS 286 Real-Time Manufacturing Operating System". Computer Business Review. Archived from the original on 2013-01-18. Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  4. "IBM 4690 Operating System Version 1 - Announcement Letter Number 293-281 - Brief description of announcement, charges, and availability". IBM. 1993-06-01. Archived from the original on 2012-12-16. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
  5. Pontin, Jason (1995-11-27). "IMS offers Real32 OS for application servers". InfoWorld. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
  6. https://archive.org/details/4690OSV6r2UsersGuide/page/n169
  7. "Toshiba 4690 Operating System, Version 6 Release 5" (PDF). Toshiba Corporation. January 2018. RTD12521-USEN-03. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-09-16. Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  8. https://archive.today/20130103085241/http://www2.clearlake.ibm.com/store/support/html/pubs.html
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.