Amazing: 1,200 3000 users for $7
April 11, 2006
Nothing holds its value for long in the world of computing. But HP 3000s do better than many business systems, selling for a significant fraction of their cost even a decade after they were purchased new. However, an exception this week shows the potential for unbelieveable savings for homesteaders.
An HP 3000 Series 987RX is up for auction at a current asking price of $7. The system, which was turned off five years ago, "was running fine" in 2001, according to Spring, Texas school district IT manager Michael Anderson. The system was turned in to the fixed assets department of the district earlier this year, after it had served as a disaster recovery system between 2001 and 2005.
It's difficult to describe the nose-dive in value for such a system, should it sell for less than $10. Imagine a BMW sedan, built in the 1970s, selling for under a dollar and you get the picture. Perhaps that comparison might include the note that the car could only travel less than 25 MPH, but was in great shape and a bargain to update. HP lists the relative performance of the 987 at 3.2 times the speed of a Series 918. This $7 server is still more powerful than the first generation of the A-Class servers released in 2001, according to the Relative Perfomance chart at AICS Research.
Memory for the 987 Series is still available online at $129 for 128 MB. The 987 tops out at 784 MB for RAM capacity. And this server will never boot up with MPE/iX 7.0. But it runs MPE/iX 6.5, still a supported version of the 3000's OS.
HP's rolled out the last of the 9x7 Series in the spring of 1994, making this auctioned gem the first generation of the 900 Series to deliver a 96MHz CPU in the PA-RISC lineup. HP's configuration documents claim the system could support up to 1,200 users. At the current asking price, plus shipping for several hundred pounds, a thrifty customer might be able to pick up a disaster recovery system for about $3 per user.
More likely, this system will sell for the value of its parts inside, perhaps to a third party support company. There is the HP license for MPE/iX to consider, too. Since the Spring ISD was the only owner, providing purchase documents to have the license transferred should be no problem.
Is the 987 worthless? Not if you check on its availability online. 360 Technologies based in Austin lists two units available. It's a buyers market for machines of the 9x7 vintage. But a surprising number of such HP 3000s are still in use, either as primary system or disaster machines. Not many of them will sell for under $10. The auction runs through April 10.