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September 2009

Reading Potential in the 3000 Sector

NewsWire Q&A


Craig Lalley opens up prospects for HP 3000s to do more. The founder and owner of the EchoTech consulting and IT service, Lalley is a frequent contributor to the 3000 community through helpful postings to the 3000 newsgroup. He's made a detailed study of storage expansion for the system, a specialty that serves up the last technology to enhance the 3000 into configurations, some of which were first purchased long ago.

    Lalley has been active in the HP 3000 community for over 25 years, and he's worked on every model of the HP 3000 from the Series III to the largest N-Class servers. For more than a decade he was the senior technical support manager at Stone Container in Chicago, managing 60 HP 3000s around the country. When not busy reading memory dumps, he is busy chauffeuring his five children, who are not socially-deprived homeschoolers.

    Lalley also consults on performance enhancement for business systems that go beyond 3000 installations. He's managed migrations as an outsourced resource and even maintains a replacement system for a company that hired him to help move off its HP 3000.

    In his work as a veteran who both expands and replaces 3000s, Lalley sees the full scope of the transition choices your community faces today. We asked him to talk about the technology to extend homesteading as well as the realities of moving away from the 3000. We traded email for our interview in August, just after his return from a cross-country family vacation, during the week of the Twitter and Facebook outages.

Continue reading "Reading Potential in the 3000 Sector" »

Deciding Between COBOLs for Migration

[Editor's Note: Conversion and migration supplier Unicon Conversion Technologies sent us a white paper recently that outlines decisions to enable 3000 conversions to Windows. Unicon's Mike Howard attended the latest e3000 Community Meet, where I heard plenty of COBOL discussion. Here's Howard's take on COBOL choices if you're headed to Windows.]

By Mike Howard

When HP announced it was discontinuing the HP 3000, there were four main Windows COBOLs: RM COBOL, ACUCOBOL, Micro Focus COBOL and Fujitsu COBOL.

But in May 2007, Micro Focus acquired ACUCOBOL when they bought Acucorp. Shortly after they also acquired RM COBOL when they bought Liant. ACUCOBOL is very similar to RM COBOL but has more features and functions. Micro Focus immediately incorporated the RM COBOL product into ACUCOBOL and stopped selling RM COBOL. Micro Focus is now incorporating ACUCOBOL into the Micro Focus COBOL product.

So today, for new Windows COBOL customers there are two COBOLs -- Micro Focus and Fujitsu. In summary, Micro Focus is an all-embracing, all-platform COBOL with excellent support, but it is expensive. Fujitsu is a Windows product with limited support but an extremely attractive price. We have found that both products are very stable and very fast in production. Both charge the same for support, 20 percent per year. The differences lie in cost of ownership vs. response time of support.

Continue reading "Deciding Between COBOLs for Migration" »

Partners assemble at Community Meet

In another era we might have called them vendors, but the attendees at this month's e3000 Community Meet came together as partners. The 40 people who assembled at the San Francisco Airport Hyatt have been working together, or have that potential in the years to come when the terms users and vendors don't fit like they once did. Only three of the group could be called "users" in the old term. But those terms are "being deprecated," as old software like Java/iX has done. When HP steps out of the 3000 room in about 15 months, the phrase third-party won't even be accurate to describe the companies and experts who talked and listened all day on Sept. 23.

In a unique beginning, the master of ceremonies Alan Yeo invited everyone present at the start of the day to introduce themselves. We got almost everybody on our hand-held video camera to record the players who were taking the stage. We're introducing this video resource via a fresh 3000 NewsWire channel on YouTube, the world's steaming pile of entertainment, advertising, comedy, and frothing dissent. Of those four, only good humor was on tap in the e3000 meeting room. (There was dissent, but of the kind that doesn't end discussions or ruin chances to partner.)

Brian Duncombe started off the introductions, traveling out of his retirement to attend after he created performance and clustering software in the 1980s and '90s. Consultant Bruce Hobbs in his trademark beard was also on the front row, along with consultant Jim Snider. Then we caught up again with Michael Watson's introduction. Watson reported he's still developing in COBOL, as were several others on that front row.

Continue reading "Partners assemble at Community Meet" »

Social nets can narrow-cast to wide group

A healthy slug of video, audio and photos rode back in my laptop from this week's e3000 Community Meet. I also took away the warmth of connecting with friends I had not seen in years, people who made important contributions to the life and growth of the 3000. But one part of that rich day, unrecorded, was my own attempt at humor and inspiration, urging everyone to connect through social networks.


This talk began its life as writing on a screen, however, something you'd expect from a fellow who writes his way through life. I share it here and hope that it makes you smile and consider staying in touch until the next Meet via a social net of your choice. We track many major nets here at the NewsWire, using tools like the free TweetDeck console shown above. I hope to hear from you on the nets, or up here in our blog's comments.

Social Network Harm and Help: Advice & Wisecracks

Do you tweet? (All feathered creatures need not try to answer in English). Or share your life on Facebook? Or Digg your Web discoveries, or pile them up in a Delicious box? Do you have any idea what I'm talking about?

If not, you're in a big group. Maybe not the 70 million people rumored to be using one of these social networks. There's so many more, like the unique one that user group Connect operates, or the public Linked In site. Or Plaxo. Or something new, Cummerbund. (Sorry, just making that last one up.)

That fact about Cummerbund shows a little of the harm in this powerful new tool. You can make something up, and if it's not easily checked in a Google probe, it can get traction. The shorter the report, the easier it becomes to disguise or mistake. Take this tweet from Twitter, posted by @AngelaAtHP:

I witnessed a woman squeal and clap when she test-drove this new HP web-enabled printer at D23

Continue reading "Social nets can narrow-cast to wide group" »

Making Jazz a Third-Party Presentation


OpenMPE is working to put its own brand on the 3000 freeware and whitepapers once hosted by HP -- as well as the Invent3k server for public development access. Client Systems has donated a server to give OpenMPE the hardware to complete in its efforts on Invent3k. OpenMPE director Donna Hofmeister believes this donated Client Server system is the same one HP used when Hewlett-Packard hosted Invent3k.

Meanwhile, an N-Class server donated by Matt Perdue will host the Jazz contents from OpenMPE. Hofmeister outlined the work still to be completed.

"Just like Speedware did, we have to de-HP-ize all the HTML pages," she said. Webmaster Paul Raulerson is currently working on that.  So that's why it will take a bit longer before OpenMPE's Jazz is available." Client Systems brought out its version of Jazz this spring, while Speedware's made its debut this month.


HP shifts location of manuals

HP support engineer Cathlene McRae, who attended this week's e3000 Community Meet, reports that the HP 3000 and MPE/iX manuals have moved from the location on HP's Web site. She said the new link is, a new HP Business Support Center Web site.

The HP 3000 manuals are among the first wave of documents to move off the old Web address, according to an HP notice.

The migration is being conducted in stages over the next year and the MPE/iX content has been migrated as part of the first phase. You will see a  redirection link under the MPE/iX section of the homepage. It will take you to the landing page for the MPE/iX docs on the Business Support Center.

If you're plugging in a revised Web address for for the 3000, it's

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OpenMPE announces Jazz, Invent3k portals


The OpenMPE user advocacy group yesterday announced the availability of its hosts for documents and programs licensed from the HP Jazz Web server. The Invent3k free public development 3000, closed down by HP last November, is now also available according to OpenMPE, with both Jazz and Invent3k hosted on 3000s operated by board member Matt Perdue.

Perdue said at yesterday's e3000 Community Meet that the two services are available with a free account and now reside behind a firewall. OpenMPE will be the first organization to host the public access development services of Invent3k, a 3000 HP once operated for developers to test and create MPE/iX software. OpenMPE director Donna Hofmeister said that will include the GNU development environment used to port open source software to MPE/iX.

Developers can request their free log-on account for Invent3k by e-mailing OpenMPE's Tracy Johnson at [email protected]

The resources the community is migrating from HP's Jazz Web server are still in a growth mode, Hofmeister added, just like those already online at Speedware. HP's licensing agreement restricted its software exchange to only the HP-created freeware off of Jazz, so freeware from third parties is being pursued for inclusion at the Jazz rehosting sites.

Continue reading "OpenMPE announces Jazz, Invent3k portals" »

Get connected today for Community Meet

In about six hours, at 10 AM PDT, close to three dozen veterans, experts and members of the 3000 community meet in San Francisco. The event has gathered momentum over a very brief three weeks, and the turnout will rival any head count in any HP 3000 conference meeting room over the past four years.

Some community members who can't be in the room at the San Francisco Airport Hyatt wish for a live streaming feed, or some kind of a Webcast hookup. That's not going to happen today, but there's hope for future meetings. For today, Twitter might provide the best real-time blurbs. You can follow what's happening through the NewsWire's Twitter feed. Go to, and just "follow" our account, 3000newswire.

Those tweets, as the Twitter messages are known, will be brief. (Despite what my writing might suggest, I know brief, since tweeting requires the same kind of skill I've employed in writing headlines for the last 30 years.) I enjoy the challenge of saying something meaningful in 140 characters or less per Twitter message. For a community that knows how to stay within the bounds of 132-column screens, Twitter will have a familiar feel. You can tweet back, too. If you're versed in Twitter's "hashtags" (think of them as database keys), I'll be using #3kmeet for today.

There will be more, as battery life, memory cards and concentration provide. We'll have recordings (podcasts on this site), video (on YouTube) and photos to share, some more real-time than others. If you don't Twitter, consider signing on today (it's free) and following the feed. It takes an real-life event to spark a stream of tweets. We're glad to have an audience.

There's also time to participate if you're within a short drive of the hotel in Burlingame. In person, as we all know, is the richest experience.

Continue reading "Get connected today for Community Meet" »

Speedware opens doors to Jazz rehosting

Speedware has announced the latest phase of its rollout of re-hosted programs from the HP Jazz site, a software resource that HP relicensed to two vendors this spring. Client Systems made the first effort at supplying a Jazz site earlier this year, followed by a set of migration training modules that Speedware put online. Now Speedware has extended its 3000 training resources to include freeware created by HP for the 3000 -- plus access to programs supplied by the community.

One notable addition to the 3000 Web resource family is this Third Party Utilities section at the Speedware site. Speedware's Nicolas Fortin explained these are links or files that were once located on HP's Jazz site but not provided to licensees by HP. This software includes shareware files created by Mark Bixby and Lars Appel, the two most prolific authors of open source, shareware utilities for the 3000. Speedware pursued the programs from these developers, linking to Appel's software and hosting the Bixby programs.

Fortin said that hosting these programs, along with what he calls the largest set of white papers for 3000s, requires more than hosting and creating links. There's an ongoing stewardship required to re-host the resource which HP once maintained as Jazz.

"Sometime in the near future, we’ll add a few more files to the Third Party Utilities section from Mark Bixby," he said. "Although the Jazz content is mostly static, in reality from time to time we might find ourselves improving it based on specific user requests, if it can help the community. For example, already a user e-mailed us to report that one of the tar files in the HP Software section was corrupted (the file was given to us that way). We managed to re-create that tar file by finding the content and re-packaging it, so now it’s available."

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'84 computing recalls conventions of 3000s

Editor's note: In late summer of 1984 I started my career covering the HP 3000 marketplace. To help commemorate those 25 years, I asked more than a score of community members from that era to recall what their 3000 careers looked like back then. This is the second part of their reports.

Welcome2Anaheim Jason Goertz, HP support engineer, Orbit Software developer, Chronicle columnist, consultant and HP engineer - I remember Vesoft's Eugene Volokh speaking at the Interex conference in Anaheim, a newly minted UCLA graduate at age 16. I remember going to a talk about the latest COBOL standard. I also remember going to Eugene's talk and realizing that he could barely drive but had graduated with a degree. I left HP in May and started my job at Generra Sportswear as Manager of IS. Around that time the Response Centers were going into operation. As I was leaving HP, there was talk of this, and people started to go down to California to work a shift there, and the regional PICS phone support centers like the one we had in Bellevue, Washington were being shut down.

    The Series 64/68 was out at this time, as we had one when I went to Generra in 1984. I remember a problem that we were having at this time. The microcode was loaded at boot time (unlike any other machine up to that point) into fast memory. There was a class problem with the machine that every so often, at a totally random interval, the microcode memory would glitch and bring down the system. They finally figured out that it was some sort of background cosmic radiation that interacted with the molecules of the memory, and caused effectively a parity error. HP never solved the problem, as by that time they were working on PA-RISC (which of course had no microcode) and that attrition would solve the problem.

Continue reading "'84 computing recalls conventions of 3000s" »

3000s can track time, even update with Unix

Even while network testing 3000s in HP's Cupertino lab were being powered down last month, customers are working to employ network services on their own servers. NTP, the network time protocol, was ported and patched for MPE/iX years ago. A developer wanted the latest patched NTP version recently, software that consultant Craig Lalley sent him across the net in a 4 MB attachment.

Tony Summers of Smith Williamson, which migrated last year, said implementing NTP on the company's 3000 was disappointing, but suspected the install wasn't done properly. NTP itself is popular among all environment managers. "Our systems team are wanting to implement NTP on our Unix systems," he reported, "but I’m asking them (for technical reasons related to our own internal applications) that they only invoke NTP synchronization on a system reboot, rather than having it run constantly."

There are some reports that NTP can help manage 3000 operations, but not hosted on a 3000. Mark Ranft of Pro 3K says a corporate NTP server is assisting HP 3000s he manages, triggering an MPE/iX client.

Continue reading "3000s can track time, even update with Unix" »

New clouds conjure up established IT needs

Cloud computing will require just as many sound IT practices as anything operating at an internal datacenter today. But a pair of key offerings should be at the top of the list for any HP 3000 customer who's considering a shift to the cloud when their datacenter goes virtual, hosted and maintained by outside resources.

Security becomes essential in the cloud picture to a degree far above everyday operations. A company's sensitive and competitive data, from HR profiles to sales reports, will all pass through a network more easily exposed to breaches. A cloud computing resource needs to pass muster on elements such as datacenter door access, or security of any wireless networks at the datacenter. Donnie Poston of the Support Group inc, a vendor that's moving toward more cloud services in the 3000 community, outlined the top three elements tSGi considers important in providing cloud computing.

"The top three things that anyone has to provide are security of access, a 24x7 uptime and access to data, and adequate bandwidth," he said. If a customer is putting its critical applications into the cloud, these elements can be guaranteed with a Service Level Agreement (SLA).

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Will we see you one week from today?

The plans and processes are in place for a lively HP e3000 Community Meet one week from today. I hope to talk with many of you at the one-day event being held at the San Francisco Airport Hyatt Hotel Sept. 23. There's still room in the room, including a lunch and networking, as well as updates and a dinner afterward. You can register online.

The program has been firmed up with updates from Transoft and OpenMPE. But aside from these presentations, there's a value in the $30 that 30-50 attendees are paying for a day with breakfast and lunch provided. If you're at the Meet, business and engagements can get green-lit.

"I just made time and registered for the HP e3000 Community Meeting," reported Ralph Berkebile of Data Management Associates today. "I look forward to the research discussions, briefings and socializing with the associates remaining in the HPe3000 community!"

Other 3000 professionals will be on hand to explore ways to work together, either offering their services or talking of engagements where they'll need help.

Continue reading "Will we see you one week from today?" »

Counting on clouds to save green?

You have to go back to the veterans of timesharing with 3000s to find reality about cloud computing potential. Hewlett-Packard is pitching this concept -- sometimes called Software as a Service (SaaS). But companies of an average size may not see much savings, according to the Support Group inc's Sue Kiezel.

We talked with tSGi after we asked 3000 partners how much cloud they expected to cover the community with in the year to come. A few companies reported they'd spread a few clouds, tSGi among them. You'll want to have an extensive IT operation to count on the bottom-line greenback savings. And if you're not a Fortune 1000 company? The services will get updated on the big boys' schedule.

"They roll out the upgrades and inform you that you will be going to the new release," Kiezel said. "They'll probably schedule the upgrade based on what a customer the size of GE wants." You may be able to push back if you're of a certain size, but that size is big.

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HP celebrates '84 alliance with Canon

Even while we're exploring the 3000 community circa 1984, HP looked back at that year in a press conference today to announce new printer ventures with Canon. When the 3000 "Mighty Mouse" systems were rolled out in 1984 -- the first office-ready minicomputer for HP -- another Hewlett-Packard breakthrough surfaced that year: The HP LaserJet, powered by print engines built by Canon.

HP and Canon have become more competitors than allies in the 25 years since that rosy honeymoon. But today HP announced it will sell Canon printers to HP enterprise customers. HP held a press conference today and issued a press release on creating the sales alliance along with a Managed Enterpise Solutions unit inside its printer/camera business group.

That IPG unit at HP looked less healthy than in prior years when the Q3 numbers for FY 2009 were reported last month. HP wants to leverage its presence inside enterprise computing to sell computers, a chestnut of a strategy. If you're an enterprise-grade customer, expect more HP offers about managing your printer needs. At the heart of the business is that so-rich ink and supplies commerce, of course.

Industry veterans mark 1984 milestones

AnaheimProcCover Editor's note: In late summer of 1984 I started my career covering the HP 3000 marketplace. To help commemorate those 25 years, I asked more than a score of community members from that era to recall what their 3000 careers looked like back then.

Alan Yeo, ScreenJet founder - In 1984 I had just gone freelance for a contract paying “Great Money” and spent the whole year on a Huge Transact Project. Actually it was the rescue of a Huge Transact Project, one that had taken two elapsed and probably 25 man-years and at that point was about 10 percent working. A couple of us were brought in on contract to turn it around. We did, and we used to joke that we were like a couple of Samurai Coders brought in to Slash and Burn all before us. (I think Richard Chamberlin may have just starred in the hit TV epic Samurai at that time.)

    We were working on a Series 70, configured as the biggest 3000 in our region of the UK (apart from the one at HP itself). We used to have lots of HP SEs in and out to visit -- not because it was broken but just to show it to other customers. That was the year we started hearing rumors of PA-RISC and the new “Spectrum” HP 3000s. It unfortunately took a few more years for them to hit the streets.

    I have lots of good memories of HP SEs from that time. HP employed some of the best people, and a lot of them were a great mix between Hardware Engineers, Software Engineers and Application Engineers. Great people to work with who sort of espoused the HP Way, and really made you want to be associated with HP. Where did they go wrong?

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HP retires docs link while experts retire

Iplogo_blue_corp_27547D A computer system like the HP 3000 has been changing for the past eight years, even though the vendor is tugging at its plug through this decade. HP resources are edging out of the community's picture, even while the experts running systems in companies are retiring themselves.

One link customers will need is a Web connection to HP's 3000 documentation. Once printed in countless reams of bound paper, the knowledge is stored online. The location of the links has gotten more elusive. The most comprehensive start point recently edged off the main page. This connection to HP manuals for supported products and HP engineer white papers is now at

One example of the latter retirement is Greg Bell, a developer/analyst who's leaving a 37-year IT career this month at International Paper. Bell works at the Savannah, Ga. plant, where 3000s have been working since the Series III systems of the 1970s. Even as he exits this month, a pair of 3000s continue to work for this major corporation. There's no migration plan for two key applications there; new apps will move in, or the old ones will be mothballed.

Currently we have one Series 957 in Savannah running our last legacy applications, and one at our Prattville, Alabama mill doing the same. No migration to any other platform is planned -- the applications will be retired or replaced. I and another IT person here in Savannah provide support for the one system here and assist with the system in Prattville.

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Community Meet assembles members, polls

The HP 3000 Community Meet is now less than two weeks away, but the Sept. 23 event is gathering its content and taking $30 registrations for the free lunch -- along with what's becoming a full day of talks and networking.

Organizer Alan Yeo reports that the code to snag a discounted room at the San Francisco Airport Hyatt is "HP3000 Meeting", which he says will be activated at the registration desk no later than Friday morning. Call hotel reservations direct at 650-347-1234 and mention the code to get your rate. (After 25 years of travel, booking through the hotel is a habit I practice to assure the very best stay.) You can also register online at the Hyatt's site and use code G-SCRJ to get the $109 rate.

A 6:30 dinner will follow a day that looks to be starting before 10 AM and wrapping up late in the afternoon. Speakers now include the Support Group inc, which is assembling cloud computing services for the 3000 community, both homesteading and migrating sites. Connectivity software supplier Minisoft reports that it's sending its chief developer for middleware products to the Meet.

There's also a way to participate in having your voice heard. An online survey, prepared by MB Foster's Birket Foster, asks eight simple yes-no questions. But you can also add your comments along with a quick response, if you're interested. I hope you'll speak up at the Meet's survey page soon.

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Speedware illuminates endings for 3000s

Hewlett-Packard calls 2010's last month the "end of life" for the HP 3000, and community partner Speedware is carrying the term forward to 3000 customers, too. The vendor that supports HP 3000 migrations also supports 3000 applications for homesteaders, but 2010 is sparking a discount in the cost of both its migration and support services.

Marketing VP Chris Koppe says there's more than one way to view what will happen at the close of 2010, but end-of-life (EOL) is a valid definition for some customers. He adds that community members are counting on another HP support extension.

"It's time to raise some of the alarm bells for those who haven't acted yet," he says, "and say there's no more extensions." Speedware believes the hardware still working at 3000 sites is physically aging — because HP hasn't updated servers since 2003 -- and it puts a lot of weight behind the end of HP's support services in December, 2010. A discount off future migration or app support engagements with Speedware is underway through the end of 2009.

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Matching UX Servers with 3000s

As some 3000 customers migrate, their planning turns to accurate replacement of HP 3000 servers. An application leads to HP-UX, and the next step can be sizing the replacement server to meet or exceed the 3000's performance. This exercise may lead to some surprising values.

HP created its PA-RISC servers for both MPE/iX and HP-UX in families, named with letters such as D, E, F, G, I, K, L, N and A. While the last two letters are familiar to 3000 customers, the rest of the alphabet can be tricky to translate. If you've been getting along on a Series 937 3000, how high a letter of HP-UX server is required to keep processing power on the upswing?

"A customer isn’t really interested in hardware equivalency," said IT manager Mark Landin, "they are interested in performance equivalency. As I [learned in performance class many moons ago,] the answer to every performance problem is, “It depends.” For instance, the disk IO available on “modern” 9000 equipment far exceeds the FW-SCSI limitations of the 3000 systems. How much that impacts your perceived performance depends on if your workload is IO-intensive or not."

So what's the letter equivalent of a Series 937? Support provider Gilles Schipper of GSA says a G-Class HP-UX machine would be a equal match, but finding such a relic would be pointless. Why bother, when an rx2600 server, far faster than the 937 or its UX equivalent, can be bought on eBay loaded with 12GB of memory for $200?

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Viewing the IMAGE of Community's Labors

Ed. Note: We're running a series of remembrances from members of the HP 3000 user, vendor and advisor community, each marking the year 1984. Today in the US we mark Labor Day, a holiday that celebrates the earliest efforts to build a working-class labor force. On this day it seems fitting to share the state of the 3000's world in '84, a time when the deepest roots to serve your labor, IMAGE and the tools to wield it, were taking hold.

By Charles Finley

    By 1984 the accepted definition of best computing practices had evolved into using systems that employed interactive terminals and databases. Applications were usually written in languages like COBOL, RPG, PASCAL, PL/I and FORTRAN. In mainframe environments, the most widely used applications were batch, datacenter-oriented applications. For mainframe users, online interactive database-oriented systems were extremely expensive.

    The datacenter structure for these mainframes consisted of developers (programmers and systems analysts), network and database systems programmers, data entry (keypunch) personnel and computer operators. These systems required paid staff in attendance at all times.

   Smaller and medium-sized companies during that time, who would only purchase what IBM offered, were mostly relegated to the IBM System 32 and System 34. which were designed to replicate the kind of capability that was available to mainframe users. However, some IBM customers were using the System/38, which had something like a database and was somewhat more terminal-oriented.

   For medium-sized customers, there was another class of minicomputer such as the HP 3000, Prime, Perkin Elmer, or Data General Eclipse that offered terminal-oriented applications with languages such as COBOL, BASIC, FORTRAN and RPG. These were mainframes competitors. However, the HP 3000 was the only one of these systems that included its own database, IMAGE.

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Quarter-century on, 3000 gurus recall

As part of a celebration of my first 25 years of HP 3000 coverage, we invited community members to talk about what their 1984 experience felt like while working with the 3000. Here's our first installment to show how far the community has evolved -- and what sorts of challenges we've left behind.

User groups plus the press lifted the 3000

By Steve Cooper
Allegro Consultants

    I started my career on the HP 3000 in 1977. At that point, the Series II was mature enough to build “real” systems on, but reliability, performance, and bug-free software were attributes we could still only dream about. Much of our dream did slowly get realized, and by 1984, we reached a point where the HP 3000 family of computers truly represented a viable platform as a general-purpose business computer. Now an actual family of computers, one could select from small to large systems, finding the price-point that one could justify (and afford). Systems that used to only stay up for days were now staying up for months at a time. And, one could build complex business systems in COBOL and Image on top of MPE, and not run into insurmountable bugs.

    But equally important was the emergence of the rest of the infrastructure necessary to confidentially choose that platform for your company. Third party software companies continued to spring up, but now they were showing the strength and perseverance needed to convince companies that they were in it for the long haul. “Maybe we can actually trust this Guatemalan with a privileged-mode program that manipulates databases,” we believed, “and maybe we can trust this Canadian company with an editor that makes the 3000 so easy to use.”

    Of course, an essential part (perhaps THE essential part) of this infrastructure was an active and vital user community. This took shape in two forms: First was the User Group, eventually called Interex, and the affiliated RUGs (Regional Users Groups). Now, kindred spirits could get together and meet face-to-face, to share best practices, horror stories, and programs they had written, to learn about these new third party products, and to present a common front to advocate to HP on the direction we hoped they would take the 3000 and MPE.

Continue reading "Quarter-century on, 3000 gurus recall" »

SFO Community Meet firms up its program, sparks new Transition survey

The HP 3000 Community Meet on Sept. 23 is shaping up quickly, considering the event was only a gleam in the eye of organizer Alan Yeo in mid-August. The one-day event at the San Francisco Airport Hyatt is gathering steam because an independent management pace speeds its growth. A larger organization might take months to assemble such an event.

There's less than a month left before the 10AM start. But sponsors and supporters are pitching in. Speedware's Chris Koppe has engaged the Connect HP user group's Web services to register attendees. (Koppe is the president-elect of Connect). By this afternoon, a visit to the Web address from the '07 Meet,, should include a link to a registration page at the Connect servers. Credit cards are accepted for the nominal $30 fee.

There's also online polling in place today in support of the event. Birket Foster of MB Foster has set up a survey that anyone in the community can take -- reporting on whether they can attend, plus taking answers to fun questions like "Have you been able to establish a sustainable homesteading plan?" The e-mail and communications outsourcer Constant Contact has a method to keep the polls from being gamed, even while the answers and comments can be anonymous.

It all seems in the spirit of good cheer and dedication to realistic Transition that will propel the Meet. Oh, and there's a sports bar/restaurant at the Hyatt for an after-Meet dinner to help raise cheers, too.

Continue reading "SFO Community Meet firms up its program, sparks new Transition survey" »

Emulators will arrive too late for some

Even as several vendors move into testing for an HP 3000 hardware emulator, the product will arrive long after it could have helped some sites. Edward Berner of Yosemite Community College couldn't hold out, even though he said as far back as 2006 he could use such a product.

Fortunately (for the college, but unfortunately for the emulator companies) we've finally managed to retire our HP 3000. It's been powered off for about eight months now (and was inactive for a while before that).  Once it's been off for a full year, I'll start advocating that we sell the hardware to a vendor or something.  After that we can rent a system, or use a service if we need to refer to something from our backup tapes.

The delays in emulation made up the dread that 3000 advocates and advisors felt about the solution. HP had a change of heart, according to one emulator supplier, about creating a license mechanism for emulation. After awhile Hewlett-Packard began to see a large share of the migrating 3000 sites were choosing a replacement system without an HP badge. That's what happened at Yosemite, where the Sun rose out in the west.

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Generating your Legacy to Improve

NewsWire Editorial

ThreeGenSeybolds This summer has been a season of celebration for me. I finished my first novel, Viral Times, and I marked 25 years of writing stories about the HP 3000. But between those highlights arrived the sweetest event, our first grandson. Baby Noah Seybold was born into his grandparents' lives on July 19. Noah, a marvel in miniature as elegant as any RISC chip design, is a chip off this old block, a generation I think of as Seybold 3.0. (From the left in the picture, there's Seybold 1.0, Noah, and Seybold 2.0, our son and new father Nick.)

  Noah's beaming dad was not yet two years old when I started making HP my life's career. I might say that journalism has been my life's work, but the tender cries and hummingbird heartbeat of a newborn boy that I heard once again give me perspective. My partner Abby and I -- well, all grandparents -- might see their life's work as generating a legacy, improving one generation at a time.

  Technology is as different in the birthing room as it differs in your computer room, comparing the mid-1980s (Nick's birth) with Noah's 2009 debut. Being born is improved in its integration of family (like your networking), where the whole clan of Noah's mom Elisha's folks and Nick's family could visit the little boy within two hours of his arrival.

    There was the in-room warming table, the more precise monitoring (not an HP instrument anymore), the in-room staff chosen for emotional coaching as well as medical savvy. A midwife and a duola coach brought this boy into our world, with nary a doctor needed (but one on call).

   After our glorious tears on Noah's first afternoon, Abby and I floated back home (a car was involved, I think) to embrace what sparked the pride and joy of the day. We brought up Nick with attention and ardor to hope for this day when a new generation would join us. Our lives have swelled with a new understanding of the word legacy, a word used as an epithet during the years of my career.

   As leaders, creators and devoted humans we all strive to leave a legacy. It must be something of great value if so many pursue it. But as you may know from either grand-parenthood or a life working through change, a legacy must contribute to whatever follows. After 25 years of learning computing, and teaching it through stories, I understand how we build a legacy one bedtime story, program design or midnight support call at a time. Generations grow stronger when they're lifted onto an older shoulder. Older clears a path for newer, which enables the latest.

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