Wakes drive 3000 memories to surface
Customers celebrate system lore while national notice
day could have been more appropriate, said one user. Halloween, a
holiday that invokes spirits, called up the spirit of the HP
3000s success at dozens of parties on four continents. Called a
World Wide Wake by organizer Alan Yeo, the parties that marked
HPs end of sales celebrated a death that had not yet occurred,
and sparked memories of a lively history of computing.
Austin, Texas, more than a dozen people gathered under the oak trees
behind the Support Group, inc., a supplier of consulting and software
for HP 3000 ERP users. Many such small companies have Friday picnics,
but the one on Oct. 31 was different everywhere, including Austin.
Company employees chatted with several MANMAN customers
under the oaks, along with a few visitors from the local 3000
community. Winston Krieger, whose experience with the 3000 goes back
to the systems roots and even further, into its HP 2100
predecessor, brought several thick notebook binders with vintage
brochures, documentation, technical papers and news clippings.
Questions only such veterans could answer were in the air
under those oaks. When did the core memory leave the HP
2100, someone asked about the 3000s immediate
predecessor. Soon the talk was about even older computers, all long
gone, like the RCA System 45, described as six refrigerators
deep. A 3000 maintenance console, the size of a small picnic
table, was remembered. The HP brochure showed a long-haired blond in
go-go boots at the helm of such a console, both relics of the
The CX was the model that actually worked,
Krieger said. Later on, you could get source code for MPE back
then for $500, no questions asked.
Terry Floyd, founder of the Support Group, showed off his
IMAGE Internals Course certificate from 1974, part of a display that
included photos, HP sales material and giveaways. People at the
Austin wake had brought such relics to leave at an altar of sorts.
Nearly everyone at the Austin gathering had plans to
pursue other computer challenges beyond the HP 3000. But the novelty
of HPs first business computer offering wasnt lost in the
hopes for new futures. Krieger, whose 3000 development and consulting
jobs and engagements included work at Houston Instruments, Tymlabs
and OPin Systems, said HP sold him on the system because it was
faster than anything Data General or DEC could offer. The winning
combination was marketing and technology.
They had the brochures and the best instruction set,
and beautiful ladies at the console. They had great marketing in
those days, he said. Thats why I bought the darn
Talk turned to innovations like a TypeAhead Engine that
first arrived in a wooden case, and an accidental sale of the MPE III
source code to Floyd. Looking to create a driver to hook up a TI
printer, hed gotten HP to send him the IOTERM source code.
I learned what I needed by reading it, Floyd said. I
asked Winston what the rest of the code around it was, and he said,
It looks like the rest of the source code for MPE III.
The wakes drew notices from Computerworld, the Wall Street
Journal and an ABC News Web site, perhaps the best weekly round of
publicity the system has enjoyed in more than a decade. More than 50
sites hosted hundreds of attendees. In Cupertino two wakes on
separate days were attended by HPs 3000 engineers and managers,
because many had trick-or-treat duties on the 31st.
One 3000 ISV, eXegeSys, used the wake as an event to
announce two new products. While gathering 38 people in Salt Lake
City, the company said in its notes on the World Wide Wake Web site
it was celebrating the birth of our next-generation Customizer
Technology (eXsyst Anywhere), and also the birth of our customizable
next-generation Asset Management application (built on eXsyst
Anywhere). Both have their roots in the HP 3000. But both extend far
beyond the capabilities of their forefathers. These two new products
are born to carry the memory of the HP 3000 on into the
The future looked less certain from the notes at some
sites. The gathering in the Houston area was identified as NOT
AN HP SPONSORED EVENT. Gary Stead of the UK added that he would
be looking for a job on the 1st of November. And one wake
locale, in New York City, was scheduled to take place at the site of
the former World Trade Center towers.
Despite the potential for gallows humor, those who
celebrated were unwilling to bury their connection with the system.
In Chesterville, Ontario, employees at MB Foster had a cookout, while
the companys founder noted later on that wake might
not be the best term to describe the communitys affections.
I think the wake was premature, said Birket
Foster, an HP Platinum migration partner whose firm also sells data
management tools for the 3000. The patients not dead yet,
but we did pass a milestone.