OK, never mind, I found the answer: you HAVE to use the Activation Code and push it through Steinberg Download Assistant, using the “Enter your Download Access Code” button in the upper left. When you do that, SDA brings up eLC with a completely different Activation Code, and thus eLC is happy.
Unless I’m totally cracking up (a non-zero probability…), this is a new procedure, different from any other Steinberg activations I’ve done over the years. And that’s fine, but I did not see anything that would alert me to this change in the README etc. That said, I probably didn’t read it very carefully, as I’ve done a zillion Steinberg eLC activations before. -> Maybe the README could be (a lot) more vocal about it?
The message I got in eLC when I tried to input (what I thought was) the Activation Code was very unhelpful, and literally pointed me in the wrong direction. The error message says that the eLC software is too old, so download the latest and install. I already had the latest installed. -> What it should have said was something indicating that the Activation Code I had was really a “Download Code” to be applied in SDA, which would then interface with eLC to do the actual activation.
3, In SDA, the big button in the upper-left corner says, “Enter your Download Access Code”, not anything about and Activation code, so naturally I did not think it applied, as I had already downloaded and installed the software. -> Steinberg, please make it much more obvious that the code you give out at purchase is NOT an Activation code, but rather a Download code, and that the Download code must be redeemed through SDA, not eLC directly.
Hopefully this note will save the next person from having to be frustrated and delayed. Maybe Steinberg will even make changes similar to what I suggest, above, and save people the initial frustration of having it not work, too. That would have saved me valuable time…
Party on, Garth.