The HP 3000 was the first personal computer developed by HP in an attempt at making computers more available to the average everyday person. The idea was conceived in 1969 and designed in 1972 but it wasn’t released until 1973.
Since the beginning, each new model of the HP 3000 has had an increase in memory, more computing power, more software and more disc space. The system was written in the C programming language still and Pascal. The cabinet size has shrunk down from a large desk to a small table to finally a small server that’s the size of a shoe box.
When it was first released, it was a disaster and was withdrawn from the market in only 3 months. Making it very rare to see an original HP 3000 and recently one sold on eBay for over 4 million dollars. The original plans by HP were to make the 3000 run a 32-bit operating system, but they opted for the more cost-effective 16-bit. This proved to be a horrible idea as they would soon have to upgrade to 32-bit to keep up with the competition.
Project Alpha – The HP 3000 is Delivered (1972)
November 1, 1972 was a happy day for many people. It was the release date and the HP 3000 and it proved to be a total failure. It crashed every 10-15 minutes and supported only two users. Customers were promised 64 terminals, only to find out after spending $10,000 that they only had two terminals.
This release of the HP 3000 bought the first negative publicity to HP since it’s inception. Users were so so frustrated that they demanded a refund and after a few short months HP withdrew the HP 3000.
Further Setbacks for the HP 3000 (1973)
For the first time in the company’s long history, Hewlett-Packard was getting negative publicity because of the HP 3000. There was a time when many thought they would never recover from the embarrassment.
Many of the users who purchased the HP 3000 received the 2000 for free and got a refund on there initial order, until the HP 3000 was improved. HP decided to put all of it’s effort into making the 3000 the best computer in the world.
HP cut the budgets of all publicity and instead hired engineers to fix the bugs and improve the new model. Engineers worked tirelessly to improve the software and managed to go from 42 crashes in one day down to two crashed. There was a memory size of 96 KB was very low and only capable of storing text files.
By Spring of 1973 the HP3000 had nearly 5 years of development time poured into it and almost nothing to show. It cost HP over $20 million and the projection for the release date was still unknown.
The Digital Age is Here – Hp 3000 2.0 – CX (1974)
For 12 months the engineering team worked to improve the Hp3000 and finally came out with the CX Version. Earlier models were called Series I. The main memory of the CX was improved. The hardware team returned to the original idea of using system bus architecture, which allowed for faster loading time and less crashed.
The new and improved operating system – the MPE-c was updated to compete with IBM. It was the first COBAL compiler on any computer and was used by the DOD for the military. Bill Hewlett did not want to use COBAL on the HP3000 because it was a move to show that they wanted to compete with IBM. It was at this time that people realized that HP was the new player on the street in the computer game
Bill Hewlett had no idea that what he did with the HP 3000 was going to change the world forever. By making a computer that was powerful and affordbale to small business owners, the digital age was here. HP became the biggest name in the computer industry along with Apple and IBM. The HP3000 was such a hit that the computer world was changed for ever.