To Al Kossow at bitsavers

Johnny Billquist bqt at
Sun Nov 15 09:37:52 CST 2015

On 2015-11-15 16:01, Jerome H. Fine wrote:
> 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 I have plenty of emails from you showing that you have been trying 
to talk with Dave Carroll many times over the years on the subject of 
releasing RT-11, getting access to RT-11, submitting patches to RT-11, 
making a new version of RT-11, and god knows what else.
Now, why you would have written those emails if you know nothing about 
this is a mystery to me.

> 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.

Oh, sure. Which comes back to what I already said several emails ago. If 
someone have a good contact in HP, which would be able to write such a 
document for us, then please let us know. We would like nothing more...

> 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.

Right. So the problem was, and still is, HP. HP has the control, and the 
ball. And nothing can happen until they do something, which at this time 
do not seem likely.

> ---------------------------------------------------------------
> 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.

I also do not know why Mentec didn't respond to you. Maybe some past 
history, or maybe just lost mail?
I certainly did business with Mentec 10 years ago, and they were happy 
to take my money, and send me CDs with PDP-11 software. So they were 
definitely still making business with some people.

> 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.

And I heard from DEC/Mentec that you were a difficult individual who was 
very fond of violating licenses. But all that is hearsay on my part.

> 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.

I respond, since I feel that you are sending out disinformation and try 
to make others do some dirty work so that you can then feel safety in 
And I try to say what I think is correct information.
I could be entirely wrong, but until someone shows me that, I'll continue.

> 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.

TO just point one thing out here. I don't live in the US, and I have a 
very fuzzy idea about what US law might say. I'm merely pointing out 
what I think is right from a very personal perspective.

> 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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let me point out that it is not impossible to run PDP-11 software 
legally under SimH. You just need a license.
(This should be obvious, but your wording above makes me feel I should 
point it out anyway.)

As far as your "curiois" comment goes. Before they can make a comment, 
they need to know about it. If they don't know, how can they make a comment?

I'm sure you know, as a good lawabiding citizen, will contact HP and 
tell them that software which they own the IP for, are available for 
free on some sites, just so they know.

> 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.

Well, who knows how much damage you might have done to the people who 
have tried to make it legal...?
So you have have had an impact after all.

There was certainly an attempt to make all the software available for 
hobbyist use around 10 years ago. And for a while it seemed really 
promising, and then suddenly it was all aborted, which fairly advanced 
discussions was going on.
I was not involved, but I know of some people who where.

> 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.

Sadly, I suspect that this might be correct. But that is still the path 
we need to pursue.

>> (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
> answered.
> 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.

What would satisfy you?


Johnny Billquist                  || "I'm on a bus
                                   ||  on a psychedelic trip
email: bqt at             ||  Reading murder books
pdp is alive!                     ||  tryin' to stay hip" - B. Idol

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