What we might expect from Reunion reports
September 23, 2011
News of a new Eloquence database release, the latest in migration strategies, and the delights of the Computer History Museum's exhibits are sure to be on hand at the HP3000 Reunion. The wild card will be demonstrations, both Friday and Saturday, about the new Stromasys HP 3000 emulator. Top tech management and in-trench experts will talk about a product that could open up new years for the the 3000's useful lifespan.
Some larger customers, and some not so large, could use the product much sooner than later. Over at Boeing, Ray Legault says that the product "would buy us time. We will see if we throw dollars at a conversion project first. Then it depends on the cost, licensing from HP and the third-party product issues." Boeing drops back to two production systems and two DR 3000s by year's end, he added.
Questions to be answered will include handling HPSUSAN numbers -- Stromasys has said they've got a plan for these, and the third party tool vendors could well be moving along into transfer-for-support payment arrangements. That would mean things like Adager, Suprtool, byRequest or UDACentral could be hosted on Intel hardware. There are bigger questions out there for an emulator like supporting TurboStore, for example, and especially the big-name application companies such as Infor (MANMAN), or Cognos/IBM (PowerHouse) and the like. What users at the Reunion will see is a laptop running MPE/iX, run atop Ubuntu Linux. That sight alone might be worth the few hours of Saturday morning at the Cupertino Inn starting at 10.
What can you also count upon? That the legends and founders of the system are making their stories available in person. One party-goer was on the original hardware team that created the Series I HP 3000. Another has served for more than two decades keeping MPE on the improvement path. Everybody will have a story, even if HP's George Stachnik won't be able to re-form his band for a 3000 theme song. But then Orly Larson, HP database advocate, will be at the party and could be induced to lead a song from the HP songbooks of the 1980s.
I was hardware section manager responsible for the development and release of the HP 3000 series 1. The project included the mainframe and a complete set of peripherals. When the 32-bit 'Omega' machine project was cancelled I was assigned by Dick Hackborn to lead the 16 bit 'Alpha' project. There was a parallel MPE software development headed by, I believe, Mike Green. The Series 1 was crippled by inadequate memory size and a troublesome power supply at introduction.
I have the original org charts in my files and will see if I can find them for the reunion. That original 3000 team spread out over the valley and was responsible for some great technology. Jimmy Treybig, Tandem founder was one of the marketing team, as was Ed McCracken who later became CEO of SGI. Bill Foster was a major SW programmer on the first MPE. He founded Stratus Computer, a fault tolerant machine in competition with Tandem. John Sell came in late in the HW dev cycle, and later helped found Ridge computer. My immediate manager who worked for Hackborn was Steve Vallender. Steve founded a third fault tolerant machine company.
Also on hand at the meeting: Robelle's founder Bob Green, who's got a history online which he wrote. For those who don't know, Green was involved with the software and documentation side of the early machine. The early history, Toepfer reminded us, can be found at www.robelle.com/smugbook/classic.html. Green's former partner at Robelle, David Greer, will also be on hand. Then there's Vladimir Volokh of Vesoft, and the well-connected Birket Foster, as well as Connect user group president Chris Koppe of Speedware.
Jeff Vance, who would add value to MPE/iX on rainy weekends on his own time while an HP wizard, will attend. Former SIGSYSMAN chairs Jeff Kell, Scott Hirsh and Donna (Garverick) Hoffmeister will provide wisecracks and lessons. And frankly, given the average age of the attendees, there's bound to be plenty of grandchildren pictures on iPhones and Androids and the like. The details of the supper were scouted by Duane Percox, whose COBOL and 3000 experience goes back three decades -- and who now counts on Vance as part of his QSS lab team. Mark Klein, who created the bootstrap program of GNU C++ that made all the open source possible, is on the guest list, too.
There's a host of others who might feel overlooked by not being noted now, but they've got great stories too. Some of us are bringing partners and spouses who made it possible to get to this celebration with support -- or in my wife Abby's case, made the 3000 NewsWire possible by believing in it before anybody else.
More than 70 friends, allies and essential cogs in the 3000s history will be at the Reunion's party, and even more will be around the CHM and the CAMUS group (think Terry Floyd, and Terri Glendon Lanza, still supporting 3000 ERP sites) at the Cupertino Inn over the weekend. There will be a closer look at the system's future in Zelus, but even more admiring glances at the 3000's legacy.