The Afterlife, Now Stalking Its Sixth Year
October 31, 2008
The sun has set on the fifth year of HP 3000 life since its World Wide Wake in 2003. Across the International Date Line in Bangalore, India, where a few HP lab engineers still toil until December, it's already Nov. 1. All Saints Day, we used to call the date back when I was a boy in Catholic school. Some community members probably think the 3000's survival through 2008 is a miracle.
There are many saints who could claim some credit for the survival of 10,000 to 20,000 HP 3000s. There are also many systems that have been switched off, scrapped or dropped into deep storage over those five years. The HP 3000 system populace could only decline from its census numbers of 2003. However, it's easy to assert that more 3000s will be running after today — and into the sixth year of The Afterlife — than Hewlett-Packard or its partners ever could predict.
A good share of the populace is running because migration was no two-year matter, or even four-year project at some sites. In these companies the HP 3000 is earmarked for a decommission, sometime in the future, near or far. The Afterlife is a land which is rich in the unknown. We cannot know for certain who's still running, who's making migration progress, and who has put their IT futures in limbo. For some customers, they live in the Afterlife because there's no place else to go.
Oct. 31 is one of two dates burned into the memory of the community, and its shadow is smaller than Nov. 14. HP told everyone it would cease sales and manufacture of the 3000 on Oct. 31, 2003. The date was so widely known that ScreenJet's Alan Yeo organized a World Wide Wake, which commemorated the service this server delivered since 1974. (Note that the service provider above our 2003 story did not outlive HP 3000's utility.) HP sold this system over more than 30 years, counting the ill-fated launch of the System 3000 in 1972. Everyone who calls on 3000 skills and experience, or makes a living in this afterlife, wants to know how many more years of commerce remains. Approximately.
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