Make copies of crucial 3000 tapes
Four years on, dust of Interex demise suggests virtual meetings

Mooning Over Legendary Tech Marvels

Cronkite_in_training_harness You can see the markers of moon memories everywhere today, from the news remembrances alongside Walter Cronkite's death -- the ace newsman lionized NASA with reports like trying out weightlessness testing, above  -- to a special "moon movie" lineup on Turner Classic Movies, all in celebration of the lunar landing 40 years ago. That Apollo 11 mission is a marvel in light of its technology caliber, crude by today's measure.

But 33 years ago, technology emerged to launch the HP 3000 into orbit for good, the Series II systems that now act as museum pieces for avid collectors of tech. HP-IB, the peripheral interface that served HP 3000s for three decades, was created at the same time as the Apollo lunar landers. The oldest 3000s are as beloved to the leaders of the 3000 community as any moon command capsule. The HP 3000 has maintained its orbit over four decades, as much as the base of the first lunar lander that is still circling the Earth from the moon's Sea of Tranquility.

BillDave Those Apollo missions were made possible by men dressed the same as HP engineers of the era, fellows in wide ties, white shirts and dark trousers. The design aim was the same as well. From the start of the 3000's mission, the goal was to create a system reliable enough to send on a long-range space mission, far removed from the need for repair or replacement. Adager's founders created their database tools "as if they would be used on a remote satellite," said co-founder Alfredo Rego.

Back in the mid-1990s, Adager celebrated the confluence of such thinking by highlighting the Apollo career of James Lovell, American astronaut. Rego interviewed Lovell, who was the backup commander for Apollo 11, to emphasize the similarities between the legendary NASA and today's 3000. "They have a lot in common," Adager's Web page still says. "Reliability, resilience, a tremendous amount of attention to detail, and a superb team of people behind them whose motto is 'Failure is not an option.' "

While the roster of that team has changed over the past decade, the ambitions of those who homestead on the 3000 are served with even more expertise. In the 1990s there was no experience in the Web, thin-client development, worldwide networking standards, or the synergy of the open source movement. All have become a part of the HP 3000 solution since the Lovell interview.

LovellYou can still get a copy of that interview from Adager for the asking. Rego and the Apollo commander talk about "IMAGE/SQL, the high-performance and high-availability Database Management System." Their conversation took place when adding SQL to a networked database like IMAGE was still a new concept. Like the manned missions from Lovell's term to beyond the first year of the 3000, SQL has proven itself to be an essential tool the 3000 community has embraced.

To this day, humans have not returned to the surface of another planet, a kind of lasting tribute to the stature of that Apollo mission. You can report that HP has never built a computer system since the 3000 designed to be booted and set into orbit, with little regard for replacement. The model didn't serve HP's business aims as long as it has served some 3000 customers. Aiming high can often deliver resources that are built to last.