It was two years ago this week that the HP 3000 community learned about the Interex user group's vanishing act. The technical and social resource for HP computer users went offline with no notice to the group's HP World sponsors, magazine and show advertisers, volunteers or members, leaving more than $4 million in unpaid bills and long-term debts.
After 24 months, the only remaining asset worth pursuit — the programs in the group's Contributed Software Library — remains in limbo. Members and sponsors have not seen their bank accounts reimbursed for booth reservations, membership dues or sponsor monies, not to mention the unpaid bills to hotels across the country or HP's loss (well over $100,000, for those who are counting.)
It was 60 years ago that Sgt. Pepper taught his band to play (the 20 in that Beatles lyric, plus the 40 since the song's release), but the song of Interex played only about half as long. HP 3000 customers founded the group in earnest in the middle 1970s, led by system managers working to find a way to maximize their investment in HP 3000s. Hewlett-Packard engineers used those users to tune the HP 3000 product offerings, often by repair of the releases after they were already in the field.
Guy Smith, a contributing writer for the 3000 NewsWire in our earliest issues of 1995, posted a note in that week of 2005, noting that "It is no longer an HP World."
My first job in 1978 was for a Sunnyvale timesharing company that ran a HP 3000 Series I. Intel and Rolm ran their financial systems on our machine. The last Interex HP World I attended was the San Francisco blow-out with Circe d' Soliel. Interex promoted HP products until around 1994 when HP pulled its salesforce and subsequently anounced the end FIRST end of the HP-3000. With HP-UX dominating marketing and sales, as a Interex Regional Users Group officer I immediately saw a drop in attendance at the local level.
So many IT shops were losing the HP-3000 only mantle and becoming multi-vendor/OS shops. Windows, NT, Unix, HP-UX. The family HP way was gone, and then Carly Fiorina placed the final stake in the HP 3000 and Interex about three years ago.
What is Mark Hurd's golden handshake compensation? Only the CEO and board members get richer. The rest of struggle to live and have a sense of unity. It is no longer an HP World.