Living around
a 3000 world

It had been a long day, and we found ourselves in Long’s Drug, longing for Maui potato chips. My partner Dottie Lentz and I celebrated her 50th birthday with a trip to Hawaii last month, and after 12 hours of travel we were finally on the island of Maui. We drove to the biggest strip of commerce on the small island, searching for some local pleasures to sample. At the heart of one of the biggest strip malls was a Long’s Drug, with plenty of chip choices – Frito Lay’s, local-made and others. As I walked past the vast sunscreen display and around the sport fishing aisle, I smiled. Sure, it was because we were in Maui. It was also because I knew that somewhere in this hub of supply for heaven on earth was an HP 3000, keeping track of every chip, every lure.

It made me think again about how big the world of the HP 3000 is, once you start to look. We drove around the island in a Hertz rental, another 3000 customer. It was a Chrysler Sebring, made by another user of the system. We stayed in the Aston Wailea amid a handful of golf courses, where we could easily spy Taylor-Made golf clubs driving balls made by Spalding. The club parts are made at Hitchiner Manufacturing, a 3000 site, while Spalding has been a 3000 advocate for many years.

We snapped photos of waterfalls which we have slipped into some of the best plastic picture sleeves you can buy, from 20th Century Plastics, another 3000 user. Offshore, the sport fishing charters used Lowrance and Eagle fish-finding gear, whose sales and manufacture are tracked by an HP 3000. We flew out and back on Boeing aircraft, a place where the 3000s have worked long and hard. Earlier this spring I flew to the IPROF conference, ticketless on Southwest Airlines. And this month we’re headed to the health club where we’ll work off those chips on the Stairmaster, another company that relies on HP 3000s.

Now we’re back to work, and there’s software and equipment to be ordered for our offices. Calls to Multiple Zones and Microwarehouse go out, both HP 3000 sites running thriving catalog businesses. We polished up our taxes on our Macs with Intuit’s software, another HP 3000 customer. Adaptec networking cards link our readers’ PCs with our Web site, thanks to 3000s managing those cards’ manufacture on both sides of the Pacific. Some communicate through modems built at US Robotics, also a 3000 site.

This is a fun exercise that gets more exciting the longer you do it. You walk into the kitchen wearing LA Gear shoes to use Procter and Gamble products, or into the shower to use a Lever Brothers soap. Then you throw on a pair of Guess jeans. 3000s are still in your world.

Publishing our newsletter has been an eye-opener for both of us, a deeper look onto the size of the HP 3000’s world. I compared that world to the scope of the ocean while I sat on the foredeck of the America II, the competition racing yacht that’s been converted for whale watches from Lahaina harbor. As we looked out over endless ocean from the Kealaikahiki Channel, watching for humpbacks, I thought of the 3000s swimming under the surface of our business and pleasure. Like the humpbacks, they are far fewer in number than Unix sharks or NT pilotfish. But each one is vital in the ocean of information that companies must swim through today. Those humpbacks are older than most other sea creatures, like the 3000’s heritage. And they owe their life to that intelligence that comes from longevity – wisdom if you will.

Now we are wise enough to value their strengths and savvy. Years ago the Lahaina harbor launched whalers to take the lives of those great creatures. Now the boats’ captains celebrate their appearance, radioing each other much like 3000 customers share sightings across the Internet. We can evolve our views of the value of our information environments. When you see a humpback tail, you feel part of a bigger story, one that survives in spite of all. All it takes to evolve your view is to develop a vision of how big our world’s future can be.

– Ron Seybold