Whatever legacy users need is in the seas, or on the roads

Legacy system users and owners find their way to the resources they need. Systems like the HP 3000, VAX, AlphaStations, and Sun servers matured in the era when help was everywhere — even when the vendors couldn’t supply it.

The OpenVMS environment has a mascot as part of its brand. A great white shark from a clip art directory gave the customers a marketing push for remaining faithful to their legacy choice. In the days when such systems were called proprietary, instead of open, retaining customers was not simple. The servers that used vendor-tuned environments battled with industry standards like Windows.

The sales forces created the brand identity, rather than vendor marketing departments. That shark grew bigger teeth and a special typeface when John K. Smith of the OpenVMS Systems and Servers Group drew it up.

I created the OpenVMS Shark logo in the early 90’s for the original OpenVMS Champions program – a worldwide group of business managers who were drivers and advocates of OpenVMS in their local geographies. The reasoning around the logo was that the shark and OpenVMS shared attributes such as:

  • They have both been around forever.
  • They are extremely fast and flexible.
  • They never stop.
  • They will take on (eat) anything and continue to operate.
  • They operate in packs/clusters.
  • And although they will never be cute they are the most efficient and effective machines in their environments.

The tag line for the group was, “In an ocean full of guppy operating systems, wouldn’t you want to be the king of the seas?”

Locating the mascot known as Vernon was a matter of typing “OpenVMS Shark” into a search window. There’s so much proven creativity and help on the Web that the legacy knowledge base is unlikely to disappear in any of our lifetimes. But here at Legacy OS we have resources curated to keep the knowledge outposts manned.

Off of the main menu of this website, legacy users can find a deep array of technical resources. The riches are especially plentiful for OpenVMS. Some of it is preserved by way of the Internet Wayback Machine. That’s a venture to capture and archive web pages that even the vendors have removed. The Hewlett Packard Enterprise web pages have had HP 3000 advisories scrubbed off them for more than five years. They’re still online via the Wayback.

More useful and less obvious legacy knowledge is within the powers of the Wayback. An ERP system called eXegeSys ran on HP 3000s for more than a decade. A list of the acronyms used in that app is online. A mission to document a legacy app could make use of that kind of list.

That website ran at MM Support, a third party support provider for the Manufacturing Management (MM II) app customers. For years, MM Support helped users of 3000s find the MPE/iX manuals the vendor kept shuffling around. That documentation will never go offline. There it is, the Getting Started with HP ImageSQL training manual, by way of MM Support and the Wayback.

An email address might be traded dozens of times to keep junk mail flowing to inboxes. The same strategy, though, delivers legacy system wisdom with the power of the Internet: a resource with untold chambers of replicated information.

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