After sizing up the lifespan prospect for MPE/iX apps, the forthcoming failure of date handling looms large. CALENDAR, which is intrinsic to identifying the correct date of a transaction, stops working at the end of 2027. HP chose a 57-year lifespan for MPE when it fell back to making a 16-bit 3000, way back at the start of the 1970s. Loose talk about fixing this problem has bumped around the community for years.
Now there's someone who believes there's a way to make MPE/iX a 2028 resource and beyond. It's got to be done site by site, though.
"At the moment, I suspect changes to handle 2027 problems are likely to be site-specific," said Stan Sieler of Allegro, "depending upon their applications."
"A range of possible options exist," he adds. "They're complicated by the likelihood that some software has roll-your-own build a CALENDAR format date code." Erasing this roadblock could make specialized in-house apps immortal. The software doesn't need to rely on HP's hardware anymore. Stromasys and its Charon emulator have enabled that.
Allegro owns an MPE/iX site code license, as does Pivital Solutions and a few other companies. Allegro's Sieler and Steve Cooper also have experience developing MPE internals for HP. The algorithm isn't that complex, but installing such a software fix will be done customer by customer.
I suspect in many cases," Sieler said, "the most effective approach would be to roll back the system date by some multiple of 14 years, and then intercept some input, and some output, changing data as needed. For example, if a user wants to enter 10/15/2030, that might get changed to be 10/15/1974 (using a 56 year offset), and output of the form 1/2/1995 would be changed to 1/2/2031, and output of the form 1/2/95 to 1/2/31).
Sieler said the company is ready to help customers with the problem, even though it won't stop anything until 2027's last day.
"We pioneered Y2K testing and remediation for both HP, (on MPE and HP-UX), and our customers," he added, "and we pioneered checking (not enforcing) computer security (our EnGarde preceded VEAudit)." VEAudit is a Vesoft product. That company's founder Vladimir Volokh has weighed in on 2028 in years past. Like many MPE advocates, he's been hopeful.
In an era where Amiga games can be played on iPhones -- and companies now earn money for such a creation -- it's easy to say we don't know who will break this 2028 barrier. Anyone with MPE/iX source code and customer initiative and a full-service approach is a candidate to provide a route around the roadblock.
The best news is that I'll only be 70 when this happens, so I'll be around to watch the magic.