Eight-score friends and relations of the HP3000 gathered at the Computer History Museum last weekend. Some of them have known the system and the community since 1970, even earlier. Others only arrived in the 1980s (like me) or even later. But we felt like we'd arrived just in time at the Great Room of the fine building in Mountain View.
Supper was on service through much of the night, catered for both meat eaters with massive burgers and hot dogs and vegetarians with tasty beans, salads and veggie patties as large as I've even seen them. Outside in the courtyard patio, the bar served up refreshments hard and soft. Those who came for these several hours of a Saturday arrived early and stayed late. They had stories to serve up and news on which to catch up.
Many of these people were delighted to see the guest list while they picked up custom badges. Then they signed the commemorative "Dancing with the HP 3000" poster (go ahead, click on it for high details) marking down the year they first became aware of and worked with the HP 3000. A wide swath of the poster listed years in the 1970s. Even Vladimir Volokh came in behind these vets, because he'd arrived in the US later in the decade. Like so many at the party, he was celebrating the time of his life.
History was on tour during the event, led by museum docent and community icon Stan Sieler. The Engima machine and a computer whose results were calculated using mercury were in the early stages. The crowd of veterans which Sieler led had their own memories of history. They carried their tales into the Great Room, eager to revisit with old friends, or meet people in person for the first time. Some were at the Reunion because they wanted to gather before it might be too late -- not for the server, but for those who served. Absent friends of several kinds were toasted.
For a group that had been scattered by a business decision from Hewlett-Packard, the night was time spent without recriminations. Jeff Vance, who as an HP engineer built and contributed countless hours of work on the MPE interface, came away from the night with a massive poster of the Migration cartoon commissioned by Alan Yeo during the dark year of 2002.
Dave Wilde, the business manager of the HP that worked in the aftermath of that decision, was also on hand and smiling while he found friends, collegues and partners (l-r, Wilde, David Greer and Birket Foster) who traced back beyond his own start with the system. Former GM Harry Sterling, whose group dreamed up the first "Dancing with the HP 3000," was absent because of an overseas trip, while 1990's era GM Glenn Osaka had an LA family trip already scheduled. "Great idea to have a reunion of the wonderful HP 3000 community," he said.
While there were many on hand who still work with the HP 3000 every day (Valdimir and Donna Hofmeister -- who brought both son Tyler and husband James) the absent friends did not just include only those whose voices have been stilled by death, like Toback, Atmar and ROC Software's Danny Compton. Regrets to the RSVP came from Alfredo Rego, Fred White, MANMAN/3000 bulldog Terry Simpkins, from Brian Edminster (working hard on the open source MPE/iX repository), Jon Backus (the OpenMPE founder), Jack Connor (the current OpenMPE chair) support wizard Gilles Schipper, Lee Courtney (ex-HP 3000 division), and Paul Edwards of both Interex and OpenMPE boards.
But the list of attendees was long, including many whose presence was a delightful surprise. Bob Green of Robelle (left) came in from travels in South America; Orly Larson from a far closer locale. Steve Suraci of Pivital Solutions, a 3000-only support resource, and Chuck Nickerson of Hillary Software (still selling byRequest for MPE/iX) were both on hand through their last-minute commitments. Right alongside Nickerson (below right) was Dick Toepfer, who'd helped create the very first HP 3000 hardware.
A lengthy list of attendees follows, but there's some chance to add your name to a Reunion list. Whether next year, or the one beyond that, there was a feeling in this room that these swallows would return to Cupertino once more.
The evening was made possible by both long hours of volunteering, as well as financial support from Speedware, Robelle, CAMUS plus ScreenJet, Marxmeier Software, and a lot of words from the 3000 NewsWire. Three of us (at left) took a moment to pause and enjoy the smiles and laughter we'd gathered -- with hard work from CAMUS' Terri Glendon Lanza and QSS' Duane Percox -- around us. Lanza bid to win the original Dancing signed poster, but there will be reproductions available based on that original community art.
If you couldn't count yourself among the group below, it might be a good idea to keep track of the hp3000reunion.com website. September feels like a good month for Reunions, so linked to the school days. This weekend's reunion smiles and laughter taught everyone a lesson: the memories of the HP 3000's legacy are still there for the community to enjoy and use. More are on the way.
Attendees for this year's Reunion:
Maria Di Gregorio
Terri Glendon Lanza