Emulator's transfers trigger shopping fees
The Safety of a Frozen Environment

Did you sell your disks or give them away?

These days HP 3000s are going onto the auction block, eBay, or to a broker when they're decommissioned. It's a wistful day when Hewlett-Packard server hardware goes offline, followed a period of storage. Eventually purchasing gets ahold of the system. At the University of Washington, for example, the pharmacy school put its Series 969 out in the hands of sellers at the university.

Deane Bell, the pro in charge of the 3000's replacement and an MPE veteran of several decades, said the server isn't likely to draw much attention in the market. A support provider in the community talked about pennies on the dollar for the system. But both experts realized that the storage components are the most valuable parts of an older 3000. They just had different reasons for the retained value.

"The Jamaica drives are possibly the most valuable components," Bell said when we checked in on a server first advertised in the summertime. I mention the drives since last time, several years ago when I attempted to buy some, they were almost impossible to find."

Certified drives for 3000s can be complicated to locate, but even if they're out there, letting yours go with the server might not be the safest strategy. The drives could contain records that are regulated by government law. One expert said that destroying such disks, professionally, is the more secure way to decommission a system. Writing zeros over and over onto such drives gets a manager closer to the destruction level of security. But then there's the RAM, which can do it's own storage.

We've heard of resold Unix servers in the HP line DLxxx line with 256MB RAID memory dutifully being kept alive by a built in battery. That's enough room for credit card numbers, user names, passwords, and SSNs. Pulling the battery should resolve that problem.

There's something more unique and valuable in any decommissioned HP 3000. The operating system license is one-off, not to be reproduced ever again. Any customer who's got a possible CHARON emulator in their future -- and wants to run the emulated system alongside a production HP 3000 -- could use another number in tandem with the existing system.

Series 969 hardware, without disk, will sell for pennies on the dollar. But if the OS license is considered, something with no physical attribute might be the most valuable -- and safest -- asset to pass on the market. Purchasing and asset departments could be notified by savvy MPE pros.