A few weeks ago, an email arrived with an offer to connect me to HP 3000 matters. It’s an automation option that the classic mailing lists use. About once a month, the email asks if this is still a good address. If it reaches your box, the email does its job. If the list server gets a bounce from your address, you’re a no-show.
This is the kind of automation that has powered the 3000 as long as it’s run in businesses. The server is built to withstand ignorance. The prospect of becoming invisible at a company does not tip the server into failure. The email came from the OpenMPE mail server, once a resource for news about getting MPE/iX into open development.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is the host for 3000 mailing lists. The best known is 3000-L, plus another private list for masters of 3000 development. Then there’s OpenMPE-L, starting in the 2000s. It was never a lively spot like 3000-L. OpenMPE was a defiant flag waving in the breeze of the 3000’s future.
A decade ago this month, the days began to devolve into the time of disputes. The formal mission of the group, to liberate MPE/iX code and take it to a community of developers, emerged at last. OpenMPE could not count itself among the license holders of HP’s limited source code distribution. Code on a CD sat on a desk for a while, but the $10,000 fee went unpaid. The organization spurred the existence of a community-level license. It could not hold itself together long enough to become the repository it wanted to be.
A decade later, though, those automated emails still arrive. We are still on a trajectory toward a future, they say. Like a satellite bound for Mars and beyond, the automation and adherence to routine of the 3000 itself remains ready. A few decades ago, Alfredo Rego of Adager said his company’s product had to last beyond reasonable maintenance resources. Adager still tends to its database power tool, but a spacecraft can get that far away from repair depots. That’s the situation for the 3000 and MPE/iX today: still orbiting customers’ planets, needing little tending. That email list is listening for anything related to OpenMPE.