March 12, 2009
Taking a Tour of IT History
The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. has a wonderful gallery of gear on its floor, but tonight may be one of its more special evenings for HP 3000 folks. VEsoft founder Vladimir Volokh is in the Bay Area, visiting customers to consult on one of his multi-week tours. He's planning to meet with Allegro Consultants co-founder Stan Sieler after-hours at the museum, where Stan volunteers as a docent.
A member of the Interex HP user group's Hall of Fame, Stan will lead Vladimir tonight as two of the 3000 community's leading technology lights walk through the CHM's aisles of history. For any of you who wish they might be alongside to hear some of Stan's histories, we've got a few minutes' worth recorded from a tour he led last year. Take a moment to measure the passion in Stan's voice as he touts the merits of the most technically-advanced personal computer of 1974, the first year that the HP 3000 advanced enough to do serious computing. (He goes on to mention the CHM's donated Apple I — not anywhere near as superior, but the foundation of a company analysts are eyeing as a new member of the Dow Jones 30 blue chips.) What made the Intel 8008-based MCM-70 PC stand out was included software, the same kind of bundled resource behind the 3000's success.
Sad to say, as Stan notes, that technical superiority does not ensure commercial success. Hewlett-Packard created many advanced computing products during the 20th Century, including your community's server. As a for-profit business, HP measured its return on investment for each one. The company has a history of dropping low earners. But the 3000's value to the owners is higher than the value to HP. Your success with the 3000 doesn't require commercial embrace of your computer to continue its return on your investment.
History of computing is becoming an interesting study because so much has occurred in so little time. Unlike the span of governments and wars and languages, the leaps of computing have been observed within our lifetimes. It's hard to say how long something will retain value, regardless of when it was engineered.
As an example, Allegro sells a software product called Avatar, whose chief use is as "a disassembler / patcher / code-explorer" for software which was written for HP's Precision Architecture Reduced Instruction Set Computing (PA-RISC). Avatar hasn't had much attention since Allegro released an HP-UX version in 1997 to go along with the HP 3000 version. But Avatar remains in use today on porting projects to carry software from PA-RISC to other platforms.
Allegro still offers Avatar for 3000 developers, a component in its System Manager's Toolbox suite. The toolbox is sold by Lund Performance Solutions, one of the initial HP Platinum Migration Partners. For companies looking back into the history of their HP 3000 applications with eyes on migration — or those simply practicing good maintenance to sustain homesteading — the toolbox offers the prospect of a good return on investment. Plus, it's got a history of achievement, like the HP 3000's MPE/iX.
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