When a string of parties around the world commemorated the HP 3000 on Oct. 31, 2003, it might be easy to think the system was experiencing some kind of death. HP, for one, was pressing the system into continued use after that date, as the company continued its role as one of the biggest users of a system that’s was coming off its price list. Chris Gauthier, who operated the GCG Data training and documentation service behind the Terix HP 3000 support operations, drew on his internal experience with HP’s datacenter configurations to report that the 3000 remained responsible for a sizable share of HP’s business operations on the day it came off the list.
“The last moment to enter an order for a new HP e3000 computer will be at the end of this month,” Gauthier wrote in 2003, “Halloween, 11:59 PM PST. On top of that, in true — but ironic — Halloween fashion, several critical HP-internal e3000 systems will be assigned the duty of committing their own product families' “obsolescent suicide” at midnight that night. These mission-critical 3000s will dutifully carry out their product removal orders, as they always have before — because it's what they've been told to do, with no hard feelings and absolutely no remorse.
“Then, at 12:00 a.m. on November 1, several other critical HP internal systems will immediately start to reflect the e3000 product removal from the HP Corporate Price List (HP-CPL). It's kind of funny in a dark-humor way, because all of these HP mission-critical systems are either themselves HP 3000s, or have a critical link with one or more mission-critical HP 3000's somewhere else in the world.
“For example: WWOMS is the HP internal order management systems around the globe. These HP 3000 systems are located in specific geographic locations around the globe to gather new regional sales orders. The global WWOMS systems will take their last 3000 orders, up to 12:00 their local time, and send those final purchases to "HEART" at HP Corporate in Palo Alto (see below). Very few HP order processing humans actually touch WWOMS directly anymore, because most of them use front-end GUIs written for Windows and Unix.
“HEART is the HP Corporate Accounts Receivable and report-generating system. It is made up of several 3000s and 9000s in Palo Alto. These systems will see the last 3000 orders generate revenue for HP. HEART will also generate the last end of month/year reports that reflect new HP 3000 sales, and allow HP to publish their end of year results to the world. PATSY and IQS are the HP parts availability systems and quoting systems respectively. Now all HP 3000 parts will be reflected in these databases with “obsolete” and “end of support” dates.
"CONRAD is the HP configuration and manufacturing rules engine for the factory. All shop-floor rules for making new 3000 systems will cease to be updated and become archive. SPORTS / IBS is the support contract management and installed-base systems respectively. As with PATSY, IQS and CONRAD, they will immediately reflect obsolescence and end-of support dates for the whole HP 3000 product line. Okay, enough now. There are many more systems, but you get the point.”
Gauthier noted that getting together on the evening of Oct. 31 to toast the 3000 in 2003 was an appropriate celebration. ”Mind you, this is not a wake,” he said at the time. “It’s definitely a celebration: a celebration of all the great friends and souls that help make — and will continue to make — the 3000 and The HP Way live on, long after HP ends up vacating both these “now obsolete” spaces."