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Thread: Proprietary documentation from the past

  1. #1

    Default Proprietary documentation from the past

    I have been working in IT/Computers for over 42 yrs starting with GE/Honeywell Mainframes. I have accumulated documentation and software that I would love to share. I have a question about proprietary items. What are the rules for sharing that kind of (and marked as such) documentation I collected over the years? I have Honeywell mainframe "dittibooks", Apple documentation, floppies and CDs, PC test programs from the 80's and microfiche. I also have several technician tools like wirewrap tools, Selectric typewriter tools, etc.
    At Honeywell we had a program to look for things a customer had from other vendors that we could service while we were on a call for our equipment. As such we were provided microfiche and a portable reader (unfortunately the reader is not in my possession any longer) so that we could do the job on literally thousands of different products mostly peripherals. I am looking to see it can find a good home before I pass away and it gets tossed in the landfill. I don't have a catalog of it (I may have to start one). I'd just like to settle the proprietary question first.

    Thanks,
    Jim

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Turk View Post
    What are the rules for sharing that kind of (and marked as such) documentation I collected over the years?
    Any rules about proprietary technical data have to be interpreted in the context of what they were intended for at the time. At the time it was to protect the financial interest of the company, fair enough and to be respected.

    If the technical information is so old that it cannot be regarded, if released to a public forum, as having any effect on the financial position of the company in modern times, in reality, it is more of a crime that the data is not shared. This is because future generations and Electronics and Computer Historians need this data to keep the old equipment running and preserve history. This is actually a tribute to the company that once made the equipment and all the engineers who contributed to it. Or, it could be lost from the face of the planet, to the sands of time.

    So whatever the "rules" it is more about understanding the intention of what the rules protected at the time, rather than just blindly applying them 40 or 50 years later when they don't really apply to the subject matter anymore, because its technological ancient history.

    At least that is my view of it.

  3. #3

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    It's a legal question so your best answer will come from a lawyer. After asking 5 lawyers and picking the answer you like best.

    If these materials were readily available to other people or customers I would not be concerned. If they were trade secrets then they are still potentially sensitive. I don't think that anybody is worried about revenue loss at this point, but surfacing old information that might be relevant to a lawsuit or patent dispute might make things "interesting."

    You might consider contacting one of the larger computer museums. Even if they are not interested in the material directly they can help you organize it and put it in context. Documentation and artifacts without context are difficult to deal with - so much depends on the context. They might also be able to give you an idea of how sensitive the documents are.

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