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HP winds down venerated 3000 servers

Although the company will no longer sell the systems, it plans to continue to offer customer support. Also: Loyal HP 3000 fans band to help each other out.

Friday is the last day Hewlett-Packard will sell products from its decades-old 3000 server line.

The 3000 line was launched in 1972, grew more popular with customers such as credit unions, retailers and health care providers, and later was renamed the e3000 line. Although it eventually shared hardware with some of HP's more widely used Unix servers, the 3000 systems lost influence overall and HP decided to cancel the line.

HP announced the 3000 line's gradual phaseout two years ago, backing off from a plan to reinvigorate the product family.

Although the company will no longer sell the systems, it will provide selected hardware and software add-ons through Dec. 31, 2004. Support will continue through Dec. 31, 2006, HP said. In addition, the company will provide software patches online after that.

HP 3000 customers, a loyal and passionate group, have banded to help each other out. A group called OpenMPE has formed to try to extend the usefulness of the 3000's operating system, called MPE.

The group is seeking to remove or publish system utility passwords, enable software companies to support MPE even after 2006, and allow the creation of an MPE emulator, for example.

The company has been working to keep HP 3000 customers within its fold by offering incentives to switch to other HP server lines. It said it believes "it has not lost a single customer throughout this transition."

However, IBM has a different opinion. It announced Friday that several customers have switched to its servers from the 3000 line. Among them are Strauss Discount Auto and Lady Remington Jewelry, both of which opted to use IBM's iSeries midrange servers.