TBT: The Legacy of 3000 Creators
April 30, 2015
IMAGE/3000 creator Fred White (left) and Ed Sharpe pose in 2004 with one of the earliest models of HP 3000 memory boards, at Sharpe's computer museum in Glendale, Ariz.
The creators of some of the 3000's earliest pieces are still with us, most of them. A notable exception is the legendary Fred White, pictured above in a photo taken from the years before his death in 2014. He's holding up his end of a memory board for an early-model 3000. The HP 2000 Access system behind him introduced many people to HP business systems, and they went on to become the computer's first wave of users.
Holding the other side of the board is Ed Sharpe, who created and curated the first networking resource online devoted to the 3000, a bulletin board system he called The Forum. Throughout the first decade of the 3000's life, BBS communication was the only way to exchange information about MPE technical details other than attending user group meetings. HP did not launch its teleconference sessions, broadcast to customers through HP sales offices, until late in the 1980s.
The Forum earned the support of system managers reaching out to connect with each other. The character-based BBS interface was not much less sophisticated than the mailing-list-based HP3000-L of about a decade later. Downloads of contributed software were a big feature of the Forum. It connected users in an era when long-distance was still a serious business expense.
The biggest drawback to the Forum was the long distance charges for the users when downloading Forum CSL files! I am sure I caused some corporate phone bills to increase. Over in Europe, they had greater accessibility to X.25 at that time.
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