7

On the FAQ of the emu48 software, a famous emulator for HP38/39/40/48/49 calculators (http://hp.giesselink.com/emu48faq.htm#ROM), we can find the following assertion:

In general all HP-ROM files are copyrighted by Hewlett Packard. But since fall 2000 HP ACO allowed the use of the HP38, 39, 40, 48, 49 ROM's even if you're not an owner of this calculator type.

And, indeed, you can easily find on the internet (e.g. on the hpcalc.org site) various ROM dumps of the above-mentioned models. Obviously, if HP were offended by this, hpcalc.org would have received a "cease and desist" letter a long time ago.

However, I have been unable to find any reference of an actual announce from HP on that matter.

Has there been such an official announce, which details in which condition the ROM codes can be used freely? Or has it been something decided totally informally from HP, who is tolerating ROM code distribution and usage without saying anything?

Note: this seems even more strange if we consider that the HP48 has been discontinued as late as 2003. HP therefore gave the ROM code away before the calculators were out of production, which is rather unusual from a manufacturer.

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    I’m not adding this as an answer because it’s not authoritative, but according to this series of posts on comp.sys.hp48, this was an official decision. (Jean-Yves Avenard used to work in the calculator division at HP.) IIRC it used to be possible to download the ROMs from HP’s web site; that’s no longer the case AFAICT. – Stephen Kitt Feb 13 '18 at 10:43
  • @StephenKitt That is a very good find. I suspected there wight have been some posts on a hp48 forum about this, but have been unable to find them. And I have been unable to find something on HP's web site either. If there was, somewhere, a license notice having been distributed along with the ROMs by HP at the time, everything would be clear. – dim Feb 13 '18 at 10:59
  • @dim calculators were already a sideline for HP by the 90s, and calculator development had already basically shut down once, before being restarted by an Australian division in 1997. That Usenet thread came not long before the 2001 announcement that that division was to be shut down as well (later models were outsourced). I find it plausible that the ROMs were officially released at the time because the devs wanted to and management didn't care one way or another. But given all the mergers, spin-offs, and re-orgs since, it's probably impossible to get an official word from HP. – hobbs Feb 18 '18 at 9:07
  • (Finding evidence from back then is possible. Just hard work.) – hobbs Feb 18 '18 at 9:18
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    It would've been in keeping with HP's attitude at one time. HP knew they had an active and enthusiastic user community and went a long way towards offering support. Right after the introduction of the HP48, they even released a suite of their internal development tools. A detailed description of both the CPU architecture and system level of their OS/programming language. (This of course, formalized the work done by their user community to reverse engineer both the HP48 and earlier HP28.) hpcalc.org/details/235 – mschaef Jan 23 at 15:00

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