On the night before this summer's HP 3000 reunion, a handful of grey experts shared stories over a bar in Orly Larson's tiki hut. The Hewlett-Packard veteran and IMAGE expert built the hut in his backyard just beyond the ping pong table and overlooking a swell swimming pool. The hut showed off a different era, just like the IT experience at the bar.
There was a comforting feel at that bar. Every story seemed to prompt another, all interwoven with details about the life achieved after intense 3000 and IT work. Only a few of us still encountered 3000s in our everyday life. It was a thrill to be able to tell some of those stories again.
This time through, the storytelling had the benefit of more context. The things that seemed crucial at the time, like a flaw in the system's microcode, turned out to have little impact on the fate of the HP hardware. Important at the time, but nothing to chase off a customer. In the final tally, the number of the customers turned out to be a significant factor in the 3000's fate.
People in the tiki hut had opinions about HP's demise as an MPE/iX solution supplier. One theme was to compare to other servers of the same age. Only IBM's Series i, formerly the AS/400, has had a continuous path from the 1980s onward supported by its creator. All others are gone to moved to third party care. Even VMS has a third party lab, carrying it into the future. Its great numbers were able to shoulder the 3000 out of HP's picture, but even the Digital platform because a dish outside of the vendor's tastes
The meeting went long into the night. That was a little surprise considering nobody at the bar was under 60. Many of us were going to regroup the next day. We still lingered, something like the MPE/iX customers who know they're someplace special.
Surviving the future takes many routes. One long-time consultant, Linda Roatch, moved into the Bay Area from her life in Minnesota serving the Minneapolis Pioneer Press. She's at the Mercury News in San Jose now. It's another newspaper — an industry allegedly on the run as much as on-premise servers like the 3000. But there she was, standing outside the tiki hut and looking forward at Linux, and back with warm regard at the colleagues and the stories shared at the bar.