HP’s 3000 worked on through its afterlife

When a worldwide string of parties commemorated the HP 3000 on Oct. 31, 2003, it would’ve been easy to think the system was experiencing some kind of death. HP, for one, was pressing the system into continued use after that date. The company continued its role in those weeks and months as one of the biggest users of a system that was coming off its price list.

Chris Gauthier of the GCG Data training and documentation service drew on his internal experience with HP’s datacenter configurations to report on those first steps of the afterlife. The 3000 remained responsible for a sizable share of HP’s business operations on the day it came off the product list.

“The last moment to enter an order for a new HP e3000 computer will be on 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. The mission-critical 3000s will dutifully carry out their product removal orders, as they always have before. This time, with absolutely no remorse.

“Then, at 12:00 a.m. on November 1, several other critical HP internal systems will immediately start to reflect the 3000 product removal from the HP Corporate Price List. 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.

Many systems still running

“For example: WWOMS is the HP internal order management systems around the globe. These HP 3000s 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).

“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 final end of month/year reports to reflect HP 3000 sales. They will allow HP to publish its end of year results to the world. PATSY and IQS are the HP parts availability systems and quoting systems. All HP 3000 parts will be reflected in these HP databases will have “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. 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 these spaces it considers obsolete.”

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