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OpenVMS Hobbyist Program | Hobbyists and OpenVMS | Introduction Forum
Author Hello From Georgetown Texas!

Posts: 6
Joined: 19.06.07
Posted on June 20 2007 11:41
Thought I would drop a note to introduce myself, and start getting to know you folks. First, I am tickled to death at the very strong hobby community surrounding DEC/HP hardware. It is purely fun, and I am enjoying it tremendously.

Some of you have seen or replied to a posting I put out asking how one can legally go about finding the VAX Cobol compiler for hobby purposes. I suppose if you don't know where we are coming from, the question can seem a little weird. After all, VAX is old. smiley

My wife Karen and I enjoy playing with old software; we used DEC PDP-11 and HP-3000 systems back when we were in college. It was pretty cutting edge then - anyone remember the Quad Editor?

After college I got pretty deep into Flight Simulators using PDP/11-45's, and into Vax's for software development, though primary with BSD4 Unix. I still remember telling my boss that I needed a Vax, and two weeks later coming into the computer room and finding one - [i:6b0aca0d91]in about 3000 pieces![/i:6b0aca0d91]

He was so proud of getting that Vax I didn't have the heart to tell him it was going to take me three months to get the darn thing put together again! Actually, there were two of 'em- a 11/780 and an 11/750 I think. I did love those machines.

But, eventually, I drifted away from those machines, finding myself dealing with real-time embedded software designs, Burroughs A-Series, Unisys 2200, Macs, and IBM Mainframes. And Karen and I formed a small business with another couple that focused on specialized billing solutions for some vertical industries. I never gave up my day job, but it helped fund the college accounts for our kids.

IBM had a [i:6b0aca0d91]wonderful[/i:6b0aca0d91] program call "Partners in Development" at that time, and no-one else had anything like it. We were able to purchase a small mainframe (P/390) that sits in a corner of our office, and IBM licensed all the software (OS/390, DB/2, CICS, z/VM, compilers, debuggers... everything needed to write any kind of software...) to us a year at a time to run on the P/390 for zero cost. We follwed up almost a decade later by adding a Flex-ES mainframe emulator running on a laptop that is 10X the speed of the P/390. Not as pretty though!

We expanded this environment to include IBM iSeries machines (AS/400s) and lo and behold, for a couple decades, have not thought much at all about Vaxes and DEC, except to note with sadness the passing of DEC as a company.

Indeed, we believed that Vaxes and VMS and so forth were no more... history, gone forever.

Imagine our delight when we found the VMS hobbyist site, and discovered Vaxen and VMS were harder to kill than we thought! We ordered one of the VAX VMS Hobby disks, and then after we received it, promptly forgot about it because -- we didn't have a 512byte CD-ROM set up to read it, and out PC's and Linux machines refused to read it. About six months that disk languished on my desk.

Then I remember I had an old Solaris machine out in the garage, and it had 512byte CD-ROM. MMM....


A couple hours later, we had up a VMS system. Wonderful - it was even faster than the systems we remember, despite being emulated! Since we enjoy classic software systems, this was truly fun for us, and we quickly added a VMS partition to our play-toy emulator box. (This is basically a 1.4ghz Linux PC with SCSI and plenty of DASD on it. smiley

Today, as I speak, that little box is running a full copy of ancient MVS under Hercules, a nearly working copy of TSS under Hercules, a copy of TOPS-20 under KL10, a copy of RT-11S under E11, and of course, a copy of VMS under SIMH.

Who could ask for anything more fun?! It's really really fun.

Now here's where the story takes a weird turn... remember I described above that our small software business was based around IBM because the IBM Partner program was so wonderful? Well.... "was" is the operative word.

The latest OS software from IBM requires a 64bit platform to run, and the P/390 is a 31bit platform only; the Flex-ES stuff can and does work, but the 64 bit version is only available to developers, and as of December of last year, the Flex-es licenses are no longer being renewed.

That means that come November of this year, I don't have an affordable platform to develope or support our software on. IBM remote development is $5000/month and up, or I can buy a z9 Mainframe at a really attractive price, but the A/C, DASD, and dual 30am 250power requirements would make the cost something close to my mortgage!

Sudden synergy.

Playing with old DEC software, Karen an I wondered if HP had a developer program, and for what platforms? We have been thinking that our only option is either to concentrate entirely on the iSeries platform, and loose our mainframe customers (many of whom are running Flex or small mainframes based on our recommendations) or else concentrate entirely on Linux and see where that would take us.

One look at the HP website introduced the idea that OpenVMS might be the platform to target for. And it has the advantage of perhaps letting us target micro-sized businesses as well.

This will hopefully not present a terrible issue for some, hopefully most of our mainframe clients to add a VMS box to their computer rooms. We don't know much about Itanium yet, and we don't know what boxes to buy to use to port our software over, and of course, you cannot use a Hobbyist license to do any of that.

But at least we have a future looking path now, and it even includes modern systems that are the descendent of systems we loved when we were young.

Boy and I ever a happy person. And if the DSSP at HP works out nearly as well as I think it will, providing the technical support to come in and sell hardware with our software, I might even be able to hold a mortgage burning party sometime in the not too distant future! Joy!

Anyone wanting to just chew over old times, or who wants to chat with us about any of these things is welcome to e-mail me. We woudl web especially happy to hear advise on which sysstems to go with as an HP devleopment shop. Apha or Itanium? That kind of thing. Or if anyone here is stuck with an IBM issue, I can probably help you out as well. E-Mail address is encoded below.

Now, if I can just find that COBOL compiler and an RPG compiler for a VAX arch.... <grin>

-Paul Raulerson
Paul at Raulersons dot Com
Author Re: Hello From Georgetown Texas!

User Avatar

Posts: 134
Location: Hopedale, MA USA
Joined: 15.12.05
Posted on June 20 2007 12:37
Playing with old DEC software, Karen an I wondered if HP had a developer program, and for what platforms? We have been thinking that our only option is either to concentrate entirely on the iSeries platform, and loose our mainframe customers (many of whom are running Flex or small mainframes based on our recommendations) or else concentrate entirely on Linux and see where that would take us.

The HP DSPP program


has OpenVMS resources, but please be diligent in seeking them; I understand that finding anything VMS-related is difficult in the HP website.

Good luck, and welcome back!

User Avatar

Posts: 277
Location: UK
Joined: 24.02.06
Posted on June 22 2007 09:28
for RPG II for VMS talk to Bruce Claremont at

and say hi from me :-)

as a company member of DSPP you could download the VMS COBOL compiler for free.

Also at present there is a Itanium programme which will get you licences for OpenVMS I64 and all the products you need for development for free!
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