Winds of change
blow in Chicago

The smiles were as wide as Lake Michigan at HP World, faces beaming with the hope that only HP could bring to the party. I hadn't seen such good feeling since 1991, the year after the Boston Interex uprising. Sure, it was fun celebrating the 25th birthday of the HP 3000 out on the end of Navy Pier on the first night of the show. But the real celebration started the next day, when the HP 3000 division showed its customers proof that the HP 3000 has a real future.

We know it's true because Harry Sterling, the division general manager, used the word renaissance in his speech on Tuesday afternoon. He announced the beginning of the HP 3000 renaissance in his remarks to attendees, another compelling address delivered from a fellow who genuinely knows his customers. Sterling told them "An extraordinary renaissance is taking place around the HP 3000." We couldn't have been happier to hear the division get behind the movement its customers are making, back to the reliable basics which put HP in a leadership position for commercial computing.

Sterling's words sounded familiar, so I went back to check our statement of purpose here at the NewsWire. Two summers ago we said the same thing right in this space as we launched this newsletter: "The HP 3000 is in a renaissance, riding the success of its customers."

Sitting in the dark auditorium during Sterling's announcements of good news at HP World, we felt vindicated and relieved simultaneously. The faith has spread to the factory. Now the division's leaders have a vision for the 3000, acknowledging the comeback that MPE/iX customers are making with their systems. Sure, there will be a place for Windows NT systems in HP 3000 shops - you're already proving that to us by your willingness to deploy NT. But you still want MPE/iX applications. You always have. And now it's plain that HP does, too.

The proof of that MPE/iX renaissance lies in the first activity to spark application development for HP 3000s since we started publishing the NewsWire. The new Series 918DX developer's bundle is only a promise, however, until you play your part in the comeback drive.

It's an important promise. Delivering a low-cost HP 3000 loaded up with everything you need to create MPE/iX applications shows that HP doesn't believe other platforms are the only place you'll be getting your new programs. It shows the HP 3000 is more than just the world's best database engine, delivering records to applications running on Windows NT or Unix servers. CSY has acknowledged that the dreams and energies of dozens of still fledgling companies can contribute to the success of the 3000. That wasn't the popular perception just a year ago. At that

time we spoke with Glenn Osaka, who was then Sterling's direct supervisor and in charge of both HP 3000 and HP 9000 business at HP. Osaka's faith didn't lie in little companies that might develop big successes for HP 3000 systems. Solutions from small firms with big ideas, he said, were inappropriate for the types of customers sticking with the HP 3000.

One of the greatest things about humans is their ability to change - themselves, their beliefs, and by extension, the people around them. Change is really where all the fun is in life. And now the fun begins officially in the world of the HP 3000, as together we all reshape the value of the HP 3000 to customers who believed in it all along.

It will be easier to do now that there's promises on the table from CSY - that 918DX, a path toward 64-bit MPE/iX, a name-brand Web server bundled for free with every HP 3000. Sterling told us in an interview that he wanted the Netscape Web server to be as fundamental to HP 3000s as IMAGE was. That's a great model to shoot for, because IMAGE is the reason that the 3000 has survived the winds of change that have left many other systems in the rubble over the years. We like the way it sounds to have a world-class database and a world-class Web server included in the price of every HP 3000. It's the strength of the past married to the vision of the future - typical HP 3000 architecture.

Here in this space I complained during the heat of July that HP seemed to be stagnating in its efforts to bring applications to the 3000. Now we have proof that CSY sees new applications as something worth investing in. Now it's your turn to prove that faith will deliver the renaissance.

It's time for you to get to work, creating the applications for the market you know well. If you've ever wished you could start your own company to create HP 3000 solutions, now is the time. The opportunity won't get much better than it is right now. If you have the faith in your ability to craft a solution, you can rest more comfortably knowing HP has faith in you.

We will help wherever we can. Because we focus on the HP 3000, we will deliver the coverage of these solutions, and sketch them in action at customer sites. We specialize in faith. Send us your information on new MPE/iX solutions, and we'll get the word out without charge to the small developer. We want to be a hothouse for information about new HP 3000 solutions.

Chicago didn't disappoint me in my hopes for a refreshing breeze of change for the HP 3000. We got what we all wanted, a dedication to the renaissance of the HP 3000. Challenged to demonstrate its faith in a system that has survived a quarter-century, HP started on the road to the next 25 years of HP 3000 reliability. It's no wonder the smiles were so wide in Chicago. As one faithful advocate of the system said after the announcements, "It's like Christmas in August." That's what I'd call a cool breeze to banish the 3000's dog days.

– Ron Seybold