To Al Kossow at bitsavers

Jerome H. Fine jhfinedp3k at
Sun Nov 15 09:01:58 CST 2015

By the way, a draft of the post which follows was made
available to Johnny over 12 hours ago.  Some clarifications
were made, but none of the facts that I mention have changed
from my point of view.

 >On November 15th, 2015 at 8:27 P.M. EST Johnny Billquist wrote:

> >On 2015-11-15 01:56, Mark J. Blair wrote:
>>> >On Nov 14, 2015, at 15:56, rod <rodsmallwood52 at> wrote:
>>> I am of the opinion that RT,RSX M & D etc could be dealt with in 
>>> exactly the same way as the very successful OpenVMS Hobbyists program.
>> Has anybody contacted the RT-11 rights holder to see if they might be 
>> interested in a program like that? I think it could only work with 
>> their blessing and cooperation.
> Jerome knows very well who owns it, and have tried various ways to put 
> it into the public domain. Unfortunately, him wanting it to happen is 
> not really enough to make it happen.

Just to set the record straight from my point of view (I very much
doubt that either Johnny, Al or Dave will see it this way, but ...):

Actually, I really don't specifically know any of the actual details
which means that all I know about is the information provided by
other individuals that Mentec USA sold what it owned to
XX2247 LLC when Mentec USA stopped doing business.
The other information is that Dave Carroll owns XX2247 LLC.

And finally, the most important aspect of the information provided by
other individuals is that when DEC made the agreement with Mentec,
DEC retained ultimate control over the IP and it is very possible
that for every license that Mentec gives out, DEC or its successors,
which means Compaq followed now by HP must receive a
specific amount of compensation.  If that is the situation, then
it would be rather straight forward at this point to exempt
non-commercial and educational uses, especially since HP
already participates in a program for VMS.

By the way, in the above two paragraphs, I changed the word
"rumours" (in the draft I sent to Johnny) to information
provided by other individuals.

Will HP do that?  From all indications, it seems VERY
doubtful since at this point it would cost HP the services
of a lawyer and there would be no return.  Good will
on the part of the public no longer seems very important,
so again, it seems doubtful about what HP might ever do.


I digress a bit with some information which may be of interest!

By the way, over a decade ago, I did some Y2K work for a
TSX-Plus system which resulted in the purchase of an RT-11
and TSX-Plus licenses.  And while I was able to manage the
paper work for the TSX-Plus license, Mentec did not even
respond to my many inquiries.  I was not only unable to buy
an RT-11 license from Mentec, Mentec would not even reply
at all in respect to anything about the purchase of an RT-11
license, including the rather important question of the cost.
The company for which I did the Y2K work is one of the
largest in Canada and the name is known by everyone in
Canada.  I have no idea why Mentec refused to respond,
but there is not much that can be done when a USA company
decides to ignore requests for information in order to make
a legitimate purchase.

By the way, over two decades ago, I had a somewhat similar
difficulty with DEC in respect of RT-11 licenses and software.
By then, DEC had probably effectively shut down its RT-11
development group.  When I mentioned that a new version
of RT-11 that had just been delivered was under warranty
and needed some bugs fixed, DEC was not even interested
in finding out what the bug was, let alone in fixing the bug.
Again, the company that I was consulting for was one of the
largest in Canada.

I mention these two experiences with DEC and Mentec since
those experiences may have resulted in my being known by
either DEC or Mentec, or both, as a difficult individual to
deal with since I insisted on reputable adherence to the
warranty which DEC provided plus up front details of what
would be involved in the acquisition of an RT-11 license.

Back to the reply to Johnny.

In the past I have attempted to contact Johnny and while Johnny
at least does respond to my many questions, Johnny doesn't know
much more than I do.  Except that it seems likely that Johnny and
Al do discuss things some of the time and they probably both feel
that my inquiries are causing a problem.

As far as I can remember, Al may have responded to some of
my questions in the past, but no longer even acknowledges that
I have made a direct attempt to contact him.

As for Dave Carroll, a few years ago I managed to locate where
he worked and left a voice-mail.  I asked Dave to return my call.
I have never spoken to Dave nor have I ever received an e-mail
from Dave.

The rest of my response is in regard ONLY to RT-11 since I
have almost no contact with RSX-11 and only the occasional
contact with RSTS/E.

As far as trying various ways to put RT-11 into the public domain,
about the only aspect of that which is explicitly true is a bug list
for RT-11.  Even that I don't host by myself, so if the internet site
where the bug list is available had not make the bug list available,
then no one else would know about those bugs in RT-11.  And
equally, I could have just included the Bug List in a normal post
such as this one and the Bug List would then have been in the
classiccmp archive.  In any case, after a decade of requesting
help and contributions of additional bugs in RT-11, there have
been exactly ZERO contributions.

In respect for the IP for RT-11 and having "tried various ways to
put it into the public domain", based on the understanding of US
law in that regard, doing so (at least as far as the arm chair legal
opinions that have been expressed over the years) is actually
impossible since the owner of any IP does not EVER need to
take any action in the past against violators to take action in the
present OR the future.  At least, if you ask Bill Gunshannon and
Johnny, I strongly suspect that will be the legal position of both
individuals and I also suspect that for all practical purposes,
both of them are probably correct.

Even the present use of the SimH emulator to run specified
versions of PDP-11 operating systems under a license by
Mentec seems mute at this point since, as has been pointed
out by a few arm chair lawyers, DEC no longer owns SimH.

Consequently, it does not seem to be legal at this time to run
any versions of the PDP-11 operating systems under SimH
which were made available on a number of internet sites
where there are no restrictions to download the image files
for these PDP-11 operating systems.  Of course, that also
means that those same image files can also be run on real
DEC hardware and that was possible immediately and
neither DEC nor Mentec made any complaint at the time
about that aspect.  Curious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, in the past, I don't believe that I have done anything different
that anyone else has done in respect of RT-11, and probably
less of it than at least a few individuals.  I have probably asked
questions and in many cases answered questions in respect of
using RT-11 when inquiries were made.

 From my point of view, the single biggest part in the situation
with regard to the IP for RT-11 is that all of the files for the
binary distribution for V05.07 of RT-11 have been available
on the internet for download by any individual who has taken
sufficient interest to know where these files could be found.

Further, even the critical Commented Source Code files
for all but two of the applications have also been available.

What made the major change in the past month was that
even the link address to the internet site was recently made
available for files which are available on the same internet
site such that anyone interested in looking at those files
could have found the files referred to above.  I have VERY
privately advised a few individuals of the existence of these
files, in one case that advice was provided many years ago.

So if the attempt on trying "to put it into the public domain"
has taken place at all, I have certainly not been the individual
to make the most successful attempt.

I do have an opinion as to why and under what circumstances
the above files were made available for download at that
internet site, but since I have not been able to verify my opinion
with Dave Carroll or Al Kossow, there seems no point in
doing do since it is probably wrong.  If I felt confident of my
conclusions, as opposed to what Rod Smallwood suggested
about 2 hours ago in his reference to Deep Throat, then I
would have shared that conclusion.

> We need HP to release things.

happen after almost 20 years when the expense to HP
would be large and there is no public benefit for doing so
at this point.

> (In my own opinion, Jeromes guerilla tactics are not helping.)

Actually, in my opinion, I have been reasonably quiet about the
whole situation and would have been even more so had I been
advised about what is actually the true situation and what my
contribution could be to help.

And while I do provide specific help with RT-11 questions
for individuals who are asking for that help, those individuals
were already using RT-11 in whatever capacity before I

As for having made bug fixes and enhancements to programs
which are in the RT-11 binary distributions, I believe I
have followed a long line of individuals who did so in the past.
Note that in my case, not one person has even been interested
enough to actually ask for these programs.  So I doubt very
much that there has been any real harm.  And since I am
not the only person who has made changes to such programs
(one individual made the changes and made the final executable
program available for download on the internet), it seems
rather interesting to say that I am using guerilla tactics when
I am doing that same thing as others, but not making the
changes available on a public basis.

I invite any and all responses to this post to classiccmp and
would appreciate a correction in respect of any facts which
are incorrect.  I certainly realize that I don't know what is
actually in the original agreement between DEC and Mentec
which was made around 1994.  I do know that most of my
attempts in the past to obtain information and help for problems
with RT-11 have not met with any satisfaction from my point
of view as far as both DEC and Mentec are concerned.

On the other hand, my view of RT-11 software is that it is
of the very best quality.  And while there are still bugs in
RT-11 and there are many enhancements that should be
available, the only real complaints I have are:

(a)  The Date word has the bits for the year separated with
       the 5 low order bits and the two high order bits making
       up a 7-bit field for the year which obviously can't be used
        in sorting for the date as is

(b)  DEC would never share the outstanding bugs in the RT-11
       operating system - while I do agree that their point of view
       was both valid and reasonable, that was still disappointing
       since it makes it so difficult to fix bugs that are unknown

Jerome Fine

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