The Hewlett-Packard HP 2000 Timeshared BASIC system was used many
high schools and colleges in the 1960's and 1970's. It provided a friendly
introduction to computing for many people.
In the late 1970's I regularly dialed into an HP-2000 ACCESS system
operated by the Kent Intermediate School District in
Grand Rapids, Michigan using a 300-baud acoustic coupler
and a DECwriter printing terminal. Besides programming,
I enjoyed playing TREK73 (more about that game can be
here) and Wizard's Castle (searching for the "Orb of Zot").
I'd also love to hear from anyone else that used
Time Shared BASIC, or anyone who used the KISD HP-2000 or their DEC
PDP-11/70 system running RSTS/E.
In my effort to locate and restore HP equipment I've received
e-mails from former users of HP-2000 systems. I'm starting to
post those stories here. If you'd like to contribute a story
or two (or old program listings!), please
send me an e-mail.
I use to play around with an HP-2000C system when I was in high school -
we'd dial in at 110 baud on old TTY ASR-33s. This was in 1973-1974.
I once wrote a program that would decrypt encrypted files (can't remember
the term that was used for them), but the had to be strings only, and
one had to guess correctly at the first two characters. A few months
after that, HP came out with new encryption. The old version was just
a 16-bit exclusive OR.
Never did take a computer class in high school, but it was enough to
provide the line of work I would later go into - programming (I'm a
CICS/DB2/WebsphereMQ systems programmer).
Sometimes several of us would be in the teletype room, logged on at the
same time when the system operator would send a notification that they
were bringing the system down. So we'd start sending them messages.
Seems the system
console would ignore what the operator typed if a message came in before he finished. One-by-one the operator
would manage to disable each terminal (not sure how he did this) until he could enter the shutdown commands.
One of my favorite commands was LPR. Some unsuspecting person
would come wandering into the "computer
room" and a tale would be told that the computer could send out records,
when it had them. And to prove the
point, since the HP system would eliminate spaces in commands, I'd type:
LP RECORDS, HAVE ANY?
To which it would reply:
LPR NOT AVAILABLE
The person would walk away amazed.
Used to have both a 2000C and 2000E BASIC manuals,
but they've long ago been tossed.
Nice web site! Glad some others remember the system.
I stumbled across your site today. Nice to see collectors interested
in the venerable HP 2000! I used one of these systems in high school
1982-83. The Orange Unified School District, Orange, California had an
agreement with Santa Ana Community College to share time on a central
HP 2000/Access system. There were two terminals in each location: a
CRT (ADM 3A in our lab) and a printing terminal (DEC LA?? DecWriter).
The terminals were connected by 300-baud modem over dedicated phone
lines to the college's data center.
I remember typing [return] [line feed] to get the
login prompt, then
HEL-O147,,3 with a control-character password between the
A welcome message and cute little Ready prompt then appeared. One time
I obtained the password for group-level ID O100 and thought it pretty
cool to have access to "priviledged" commands. Never divined the A000
password, though...not that I really tried, mind you! ;-)
Several enterprising students at another school developed a program
called Talker. It was a primitive BBS with conversational chat ability.
We ran it by entering something like RUN "TALKER.????" (don't remember
the other school's user ID) and had lots of fun relaying messages and
Even though our school had Apple IIs in the lab I preferred using the
HP system. For some reason the concept of a central machine accessed
from disparate locations was inherently fascinating. To this day I prefer
working with IBM mainframes and "green screen" systems instead of PCs.
The HP2000A that Jayson Brady spoke of had a full
complement of software on the A000 account. Some of
it was pretty impressive for the time. In 1982 it
actually had 110 baud modems. Someone stole our
modems and we were generously provided with 300 baud
Since we shared the computer between different high
schools we had all kinds of fun [and trouble] on it.
I remember the first time I was able to scarf the A000
password. What a joy! Some maniac in the lab at the
college gave it to me. We wrote multi-user editors on
the system and were able to disable the break-keys
remotely on users who accessed our programs. We put
the computer into slave mode and could read files off
of the accessing user's account. What power!
We didn't hassle anyone except the operators [of
course] and it turned into quite an educational
programming experience. The operators wanted our
butts in a sling as we were a source of constant
embarassment. Especially when the host school started
to tighten up the reigns on the 2000's use.
Having A000 made things fun. Eventually I was caught
but my high school teacher let me hook into the A000
via a program that was never used. So I retained some
of the capabilities I wanted w/out having the A000
Mainly we were prohibited from running games on the
system and a lot of the games were kept on A001. We
were, after all, pioneers in multi-user gaming. So I
added a workaround on the A000 to let us run protected
programs on any account. Whew!
All in all it was great fun. Until I got my first
Unix (NeXT) system years later I never had so much fun
I have listings of some of the software that was on
that system. Some of it was unique. Let me know if I
should look around for it.
Oh did I say I took a brief summer class on how to
maintain the system there from some "gleebin
programmer" who was an operator? He hadn't seen my
face so he never knew I was one of the guys he wanted
nailed to the wall.
There are some earlier stories from people I've heard
from before it was a 2000A. I believe it started
life as a 2000E and only had a few terminals. The
machine was upgraded to a 2000A. At least that's what
I was told. In the days that it was a 2000E people
[before my time] enjoyed open access to it. I don't
know why... it must have been a very expensive paper
weight for the college! The decwriters came later...
in those days it had paper-tape terminals connected to
it. Fortunately I missed those and dealt w/ the
decwriter and adm3a terminal.
In any case this machine served as an education about
what to do and what not to do on a multi-user computer
system. It was a wonder. The BASIC was similar to
that on the TRS-80s [much more recent] so I found that
to be quite useful at the time.
I used an HP 2000 in high school back in 1979. I remember it well. I
think my account number was E770. My friends and I would spend hours
after school in the computer room, hacking BASIC programs out on 110
baud Decwriters. Or we'd waste reams and reams of paper playing Star Trek.
One day I figured out how to issue some command to the terminal that
would disable the BREAK key. I wrote a program that would wait a
few minutes, disable BREAK, and then proceed to spit paper out
of the Decwriter as fast as it could. I ran it and left the room! My
teacher was not impressed.
Another time, I got into a fight in the computer room with a football
player who kept picking up the phone and disconnecting me! Good times.
Your site on the HP2000 brings back some of the fondest memories.
Our high school was timeshared on old 110 baud modems into one located
downtown at the school board building in the basement. It was the
first computer I was to ever touch and/or program on. We played
StarTrek for hours! I was 17 years old then and am 44 now. That was
back in 1977.
We did something fairly unique with it to our school system. We
wrote a program called STEAL. It mimicked the logoff sequence, the
one everyone used to hit the break button during so the phone line
would stay up as a courtesy. It looked something like:
015 minutes terminal time
090 minutes total time
But the break would make it look like:
015 minutes terminal time
Then someone would type:
That was the HELLO (HEL) B was for East High School
and 224 was me as
was 150. 40 and 10 sector numbers respectively. But with the steal
program they would be typing their access code into what was really a
program mimicking the HP2000. It would write the code and control
characters into a file and then go into an infinite loop. The break
key was disabled with a 10 A=BRK(0) at the beginning of the program.
We had to do it. Timeshared accounts run out of time very quickly if
you really like computers. There were no microcomputers back then. We
used the 'dumb' terminals to 'hack' the University IBM 360/370 Virtual
Machine. We got into trouble on that one using $40,000.00 in computer
time apparently they charge the students by the second to use it and
the threat of arrests. We burned all of our references to that one and
nothing ever happened. Just as well, they cut the phone line to the IBM
360/370 that we used. We got the HP2000 B000 group code but as far as
I can remember we were unable to hack the A000. It was all very
innocent back then. We just wanted more time.
Hope you find your HP2000 and thanks for the memories.
I ran into your site about the HP 2000 and found it very exciting. It
answered many questions I've had over the years. One question that would
be nice to know was how much one these systems cost back in the 70's.
I started working with a 2000 in about 1971 in my junior high in Minnesota
through TIES. I remember touring TIES and thinking how cool it was. They
also had 2 Burroughs systems which we accessed through mark-sense cards,
which was a real pain. I was lucky enough to get a summer job as a
student programmer for H-P at a workshop in Minnesota, working with
other students around the country, helping non-computer literate college
professors develop software for HP 2000's. Then I got hired by TIES and
the Minnesota council on quality education to evaluate software. Then
I went to college in 1974 and evaluated software for the HP 3000 at my
university. I also got to work on some really old unit record equipment
and an ibm 1620 that they had. I just loved the old computers! Living in
Minnesota I was able to tour many companies like 3M and Control Data -
it was pretty amazing watching memory core being strung together.
I still have tons of programming manuals and paper tapes for the
hp2000s. I'm glad to hear that people are trying to get them up and
running again. it would really be cool to see one again . . .
Keep up the good work.
This note refers to an HP 2000 system running in the city
of San Francisco, California, and is part of the history of
TREK73, a Star Trek combat computer simulation.
The EDP Resource Center was a computer center dedicated to providing
students with computer access (as opposed to the IBM 370 at the
The system had 32 ports running Time Shared Basic. 16 of those ports
were dedicated to the EDP Resource Center terminal room at Woodrow
Wilson High School. The other 16 ports were part of a dial-in back
that permitted other schools in the district to dial in to the
computer and make use of it.
Accounts on the system were available to anyone writing programs.
The system provided the following services:
- CAI - Computer Assissted Instruction (primarily math drills)
- CMI - Computer Managed Instruction
- Career Planning (There was a program called "Career" that would
ask students questions and based on those questions suggesst possible
careers that they might want more information about.)
- Programmming Classes - Students would be taught computer programming
- Computer Operation - Students would be taught operations (the
student operators went though this course).
- Computer Games - Students could play games on the computer during
lunch and after school.
The EDP Resource Center also had a number of Hollorith Card machines
including keypunch, a sorter, and an accounting machine. These were
used to teach keypunch, as well as a Saturday class for the Regional
Occupational Program (ROP) to help students get into the computer
industry. After taking the ROP class, I never had to wait for a
keypunch machine again. If I walked into a keypunch room at college,
and all of the working machines were in use, I just chose one of the
non-working machines at random, unjammed it, and started working.
The Person in charge of the EDP Resouce Center was Eugene Muscat.
Last heard he was over at USF (University of San Francisco). They had
a sister computer center with a similar type of machine and the two
staffs talked a lot.
In the early to mid '70s I had responsibility for an HP 2000C, C', F then
Access system as we migrated. We went from the first system with a fixed
head drum in a helium environment with 7900 disk drives to 7905, etc.
I was at Tuskegee Institute then and am putting together an early history
of computing there which began in the early 60's. I've attached one of
the photos I'll be using when the work is complete.
Some things you do not see - above the second processor, you can see the
base of a card reader. We wrote programs to grade exams using an exam
card we designed. To the far right in the data communications rack, there
was a Milgo 2400 baud synchronous modem that connected this system to an
IBM 370 at Auburn University for remote job processing where appropriate.
The "Static Ring" you see pointed to was one of the lifting rings in the
top of the frame. The center was extremely dry in winter and static
electricity was an issue. If you touched the front panel with out
discharging yourself and an arc occurred to the panel, it could cause a
system fault. The edict went out that anyone getting ready to use the
front panes MUST hold on to the static ring. the system was grounded
very well and a discharge to the frame was not an issue.
The panel on the far right under the processor was an IO Extender.
If you have an questions, I'll do my best. When I left Tuskegee at the
end of '76, I went to work for Hewlett-Packard until retirement, May 2000.
Our first computer
Thanks for the HP2000 site. It brought back a lot of fond memories. I've been
an IT professional for 25 years and it all began with programming TSB on an
HP2000C in my high school in Philadelphia from 1973 to 1975. Your site brought
back some great thoughts of Teletype ASR 33s,
A000, Trek, Eliza, etc. Here's
one more memory - PRINT "Ctrl-G" to ring the teletype bell. That was always
fun to get people's attention.
I had a complete set of manuals that were borrowed from my by a graduate
student when I was in college and I'm sorry to say she and my manuals
disappeared. I still have a "Quick Reference to HP 2000 C/F Time-shared BASIC"
that I got by writing a letter to Hewlett Packard. Let me know if you would
like me to scan it and send it to you for the web site.
Does anyone remember a book called
101 BASIC Computer Games by David Ahl. I
think we loaded a lot of these games onto the old 2000. I believe it was
published in 1974. I have a copy around here somewhere but it is in far from
I believe my interest in computers began before I was even born. My
father worked for a subcontractor to operate the Univac Serial number 7
installed at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. He took my mother,
who was pregnant with me at the time, to see that monster. As you can
imagine, that must have impressed her greatly.
Later, in grade school, when other children were getting books about
dogs, horses, and other children's topics from our school library, I
was looking for books on computers. I learned about the binary numbering
system before learning Algebra.
As a Freshman in high school, circa 1973, I found the computer room
where two ASR 33 Teletypes lived, one of which was connected through
an acoustical 110 baud modem to an HP 2000c computer owned by MDECA
This was a well-guarded resource that students couldn't touch unless they
were taking the one and only computer course offered by the school! I
did get to play a few games like BAGELS, but never had access long enough
to do more than print the instructions for games like Star Trek.
Fortunately for me, my Algebra teacher was "enlightened" enough to teach
a section on BASIC programming. My project was to write an interactive
program that would compute common denominators for two input numbers. I
remember my first attempt was to automate the manual method I had been
taught, but couldn't get it to work because computer time was so limited
and my experience so little. At the eleventh hour, I shifted gears,
and came up with a brute force algorithm that I was able to finish in
the time I had remaining for the assignment.
I eventually took that computer course, much later, and aced it.
I have been programming computers ever since.
I wish I had more time back then on that HP 2000c.
In God We Trust.
P.S. I was reading through the HP 2000 MEMORIES page when I found a
request from Eric Soll aking if anyone remembers the 101 BASIC Computer
Games by David Ahl.
Yes, I remember that book, and own a copy. I also found a scanned version
of it on the Internet under
I attended Chesterfield County Public Schools from 1968-1977. Five area
school systems banded together to purchase an HP2000 system using federal
Title III grant money.
This was administered by Dr Gilpin Brown of the Mathematics and Science
Center in Glen Allen, Virginia.
I had my first exposure to the HP2000 when passing a classroom where a
group of older male students were huddled around a Teletype ASR-33. My
curiosity was piqued, and it turned out that they were playing golf.
I was totally fascinated by the whole setup - the smell of the oiled paper
tape, the mechanical process taking place inside of the Teletype, and
the amazing way the terminal would spring to life as soon as the RETURN
key was pressed. The design and workmanship of the Teletype was the same
as the Western Electric telephones of the era, and very impressive to me.
There was quite a pecking order involved in even gaining access to the
machine, and it was only through the intervention of the math department
head, Mr. Taylor, that I was finally allowed access. The Math-Science
center offered Saturday morning programming classes for selected students
who wanted to learn, and we were picked up and bussed to the center where
we actually got to see the HP2000, and it's imposing Teletype Model 40 -
a behemoth which looked like the front end of a '48 Buick.
I devoured all of the classes offered, even staying late nights at my
school writing complex programs. I developed a random access database
management system and what was called 'interterminal communications'
- or a chat as we know it now. The "A" accounts (A000 through A999)
were able to share the opening of disk files at the same time between
multiple users, and we used this to create our chat program.
There was an intense rivalry between students at my school as well
as between schools to see who the best programmer was. By my junior
year I had taken all of the classes offered, and had even begun
irritating the instructor by correcting her mistakes in front of the
other students. Therefore, Mr. Taylor asked if I would like to teach
the class, and I agreed.
My logic was that everyone knew the rules of games and liked to play them,
so the assignments were the programming of games. First, how to simulate
the generation and shuffling of a deck of cards. Then the roll of dice. A
roulette wheel, blackjack, bowling, darts and Monopoly soon followed.
I spent weeks and weeks writing a program to play poker. When it was
'finished' the game was actually boring. I rewrote it to cheat 70%
of the time, and it became much more challenging and entertaining!
I did all of this development based on what I considered the most logical
approach, and was amazed when, years later, when taking college level
courses, my instructors were teaching me the structured programming
and data access methodologies I had developed completely on my own in
Dr. Brown, the system administrator, was used to the various students
playing pranks and setting up logic bombs. We guessed that Z999,
which housed the HELLO program that ran for every user upon signing on
(displaying date, time and message of the day), had no password.
We reprogrammed HELLO to disable the break key and send infinite
page feeds (control-L). Whennext logging on, everyone's Teletypes began
spewing paper, so Dr. Brown had to do a system restore to fix the problem.
His user account, A009, had a vast collection of games that
were not in the public library.
He would travel to the various schools with a portable terminal that
connected to a TV monitor so that he could give demonstrations to the
Our school was one of the few to have more than one Teletype and more
than one phone line. We had three phone lines, one of which had an
extension in the school library.
One of the Teletypes was on rollers, so that a student could roll it
into the library and work in one of the listening booths where the other
phone extension was located.
Dr. Brown was scheduled to give a presentation in the main computer lab,
so I wheeled the mobile Teletype to the listening booth and connected it
to the extension that he was using to demonstrate to the group in the lab.
I waited for him to pick up the phone, then I placed my phone on the
acoustic coupler and turned on the paper tape punch. I was hoping he
would log into his A009 account so that I could decode his password at
The Teletype began printing (and punching) everything he was typing,
and he did log in to A009, followed (to my surprise) in to A000!
I wrote a program to translate the control characters into visible
characters, and my buddies at the other schools and I went on an
Dr. Brown had never written or divulged the password to any living soul,
so imagine his surprise six weeks later when he was at the system console
and the A000 account logged in from 'in the field'.
Like a scene from 1984, within minutes, the loudspeaker in the classroom
was barking "BRYAN BRODIE COME TO THE OFFICE IMMEDIATELY".
I was rather dismayed to learn that he had called two other schools first,
to see if those students were the ones logged in. I felt that I was the
master, and that he could have at least called me first!
He demanded to know how I had gotten the password, and I resisted at
first, until he said, "If you don't tell me, I'll give you a user account
with no terminal time and no disk space!"
I think he was impressed with my ingenuity as I was not punished and
allowed to keep my A300 'group user' ID and teaching position.
I was dyslexic with mathematics, and by learing BASIC programming was
able to overcome my fear of numbers and begin a career in Information
Technology (called Data Processing back then) which continues to the
I would love to see an emulator of the HP2000 and HP3000 BASIC time
sharing systems running on Macs or PCs . it was a real blast to play
with those systems.
A dream come true would be to have an old surplus HP2000/3000 to play
with as well.
Subject: HP2000 at Santa Ana College c.1982
I found your site today, and what memories! The program that Jason
Brady wrote about, TALKER was written by a team of three people.
I wrote most of the base code for the program during a two week
period that I was suspended from using the computer terminal at my
high school. I was kicked off the terminals for writing a three line
routine that would fill all available records of a user account with
dummy 1-record files.
Two other students assisted me with specific routines in the program--
Michael Evans, who wrote some outstanding boolean routines to perform
string truncation; and Mike Bartley, who debugged my really bad message
I still have the source for TALKER somewhere, I'll have to scan it
and send it along to you so that you can compare it to some of the
earlier programs of it's genre.
Thanks for the memories,
Just came across your website. My high school, (Concord-Carlisle High
in Massachusetts) had a HP2000A with 8K of core memory running Montana
time sharing basic with 4 teletypes hooked up. I started writing
programs for it in 7th grade (1972). My science teacher would let us
fill out paper cards and he'd bring them up to the high school in the afternoon
and run them for us. My first computer job was in 10th grade when I'd
stay after school and tutor students taking BASIC programming. Since
only seniors could take the class there were only a few non-seniors who
knew how to program it. After 4pm I and Bill Spitzak (his dad was a
professor and gave us the machine codes for front panel programming with
those octal switches) would restart the computer, boot strap it, and
then punch in programs to run. We'd catch hell the next day if we
forgot to reload the basic compiler. We also had a FORTRAN compiler
we'd load and program with. I remember when it was upgraded to 16K. So
much memory! So now 30 years later I'm an embedded software contractor. I
actually went to school for chemical engineering but computers are what
my brain is most happy with.
Thanks for putting up the site on the HP-2000. I was also one of the
people who used the installation at Santa Ana College. In fact, I first
taught myself computers and programming on that HP-2000 (I'm now an IT
director at a major university). As others wrote, Santa Ana College
partnered with the Orange Unified School District. I wasn't in OUSD, so I
had to cut high school classes (this was in '78 or '79) to go to that SAC
computer lab to do my "real" learning. Later I attended SAC, and got a job
there operating that same HP-2000, which I did until '86 or so. (I think
the claims that we wanted the OUSD kids' butts in slings were overstated --
they were barely a blip on our radar.) We wrote a LOT of interesting
software, which I'm still impressed by. Some of the people who were
cranking out interesting stuff were Will Wood, Dave Quinn, Lance _____
(can't remember his last name), Ted Williams....there were five or six
I'm pretty sure I have a box somewhere with lots of code listings, and
perhaps even a mag tape dump of the entire system. I'll have to go
through my garage and see if I can fish any of it out.
In Benson high school about 1974ish, we had coincidently found a way to
simply "crash" the system - a HP2000C/F, one student named "Dave" had a
10-20 page program that once in a while would take the entire system down.
Since the system was re-booted via tape, it would take approx 30 minutes
to bring the system back up again, we then had a "race" to see if we
could reduce the program down - one of my other classmates got it down
to about 1-1/2 pages, I therefor reduced it down to just 5 lines.
We would then run the program and watch in amazement as all the other
terminals in the entire classroom would go "dead", then wait 29-31 minutes
for the system to come back up again - and then you can guess what we did,
run it again!
Dave had decided this was a "bad thing" and wrote a letter to HP,
telling them of the problem - a year or two went by, and HP wrote him
back saying "Take this line of code out of your program, and it won't
do that anymore"...... after a while, it just wasn't "fun" anymore -
so we stopped doing it.
The program was very simple, it would open up a file - and then do a
When HP BASIC ever got a number it could not handle, it would convert
that number to the biggest number it could express, I guess the MAT READ
function never did a bounds check on the index and it would cause the
system to start reading somewhere it wasn't supposed to.
I first learned HP2000C Basic on a ASR/33 TELETYPE at OMSI back in 1968, and then I was "HOOKED", in fact - it changed my life completely
Prior to that, I had no interest in school at all - grades were horrible,
but then coming into 7th grade at Sellwood grade school - I found a ASR/33
with built-in modem at school; I even remember the phone number: 255-8020.
Within a few months, I was programming at a high-school level; had access
to Benson high school's account and when I started going to Benson,
I was averaging 3 hrs a day in front of the terminal - writing games,
and even my own language.
One of my school-mates had a 11-page program that would accidently take
the ENTIRE school district down! Another friend of mine reduced it to
2 pages, and then I reduced it to 4 lines !
10 files temp
20 dim a(100)
30 mat read #1;a(0/0 min 1)
It would give an error and then the entire system would crash, and take
the person 30 minutes to recover it from tapes.
Benson High School 1972-1975
Back in 1979, the HP2000 running TSB was one of the first "mainframes"
I was exposed to. As a new School of Business student at USC, I would
be required to use the business school's mainframe to solve some homework
problems. The mainframe was located in an on-campus building then known
as the Keck Center, in the business school. The Keck center featured CRT
terminals that were directly connected to the HP2000. In addition, there
were DECwriter (by Digital Equipment Corporation) printing terminals,
each with its own dial telephone and Anderson-Jacobson acoustic coupler
modem. You could dial an extension and be connected to the HP2000, or
(for those of us who were mischievous) defeat the school's Centrex PBX
system and dial a modem anywhere in the world.
A few of us spent our days in the Keck Center. A fellow business student
wrote a simulation (game) called KOMKYP, in which the goal was to steal
money from the bank. I wrote a login simulator, to capture the system
operator's password as he logged into the system using the "A000" account.
After capturing his password, I invited my friend Kevin Mitnick to join
me there. He was not enrolled at the school - he was simply my guest.
Together, we explored not only the HP2000 and its capabilities, but also
the capabilities of systems which were within the reach of the school's
Lewis De Payne