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Emulator's days are not so early after all

The Kind of License that Still Matters

Licensing doesn't matter to most of the homesteading community anymore, according to a long-time consultant, former HP SE and board member of the Interex and OpenMPE user and advocate groups. There's an important distinction to be made about what Paul Edwards believes about the 3000 manager. The licenses that matter are the ones that permit the use of supported products.

That puts HP's MPE/iX licenses on the heap of casual concerns while running a 3000 operation in 2013. Hewlett-Packard arranged for a $500 emulator license transfer. The deal was set up six years before an emulator would ever go live on a customer's product site. But the HP license is missing permissions for the Hewlett-Packard subsystem software, some of it still essential. The COBOL II compiler and TurboStore/iX are the most common products among those subsystems.

"Theoretically, the cast of lawyers at HP thinks MPE has got lots of value," Edwards said. "But Joe Computer User, running a 3000 in a little company somewhere, really doesn't care. He'll never see an HP rep who's going to come out and find he doesn't have an MPE license. He'll run whatever applications he's got -- Amisys, something written in Cognos or Speedware, whatever it is -- he'll run that the way it is."

The value of an HP 3000 MPE license seems to be dropping. Edwards, who saw more than a few companies using multiple 3000s on a single license back in the 1980s -- and said he "looked the other way" for the benefit of the customer -- said he bought his latest HP 3000 for less than $500. And with that purchase, a valid license for a 3000 that could be transferred to an emulator. Or sold at a price. Last week the 3000 community saw one of the first open requests to validate an MPE license. By itself, sans hardware, apparently.

It probably happens all the time, but Cypress Technology was putting together a resale that needed a valid HP 3000 license. The wording on the message on the 3000 newsgroup might have been hurried. But the point seemed to be about documentation of the license transfer, not the 3000 system.

I am looking for an original purchase order or invoice showing a sale of one HP 3000 or 9000 box that is dated before August 16, 1994. I'm just looking for the paper showing the sale from HP to whoever, it does not matter the buying entity. I don't need the hardware, license, or rights to anything. The PO or invoice must have one of the below boxes on it and be dated before August 16, 1994. $350 offered.

What followed was a list of six HP PA-RISC workstations and servers, headed up by a Series 918. "I would think some old timers on this list that don't throw anything would have to have something like this. Email me if you have it. I only need one proof of sale."

Proof of sale is one of the chief requirements for an HP Software License Transfer. Although when you think about that date, it's 19 years ago. Maybe it's remarkable that a proof of selling a 3000 -- just an invoice, PO, or a letter -- would be worth that much nearly two decades later. It's likely that this kind of request just shows there are a few Joe Computer Users who care about licenses.

Licenses for independent software, especially the key utilities like data exchange tools or database managers, fall into a different class of respect. These are products still maintained through support by the creator, unlike the 3000 or MPE. Edwards added that if an audit of a homesteading site raised questions about the nature of the MPE/iX license, a manager could rightly say, "Listen, they don't even make this computer anymore." Active development and support are the watchwords for licenses that matter, for much of the community.