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Last Chance To Order A Vax 197

Thanks to deadbeef, who runs the greatest mailing list, for sending out the word from Compaq that the final order dates have been established for VAX systems. The final order date is Sept. 30, 2000 and final ship date Dec. 31, 2000. Limited supplies - first come, first serve!
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Last Chance to Order A Vax

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Nope, I believe its the end of the line for all VAX systems. I read somewhere that they stopped production of chips a while back and the remaining inventory (after the Sept 30 date) is for maintenance/support only.

    The models listed are VAXstations (and MicroVAXes) not the VAX 4000. These are the smallish SCSI based systems...not the 4' rack machines.

    These 3100 are substantially faster than the ones from '89. For example, my MicroVAX 3100/90 is rated at 25VUPs vs 3.8 for a MicroVAX 3100/38.

    We still run a VAX 4000 (running VMS 5.5-2) and have several smaller machines running VMS 6.1. They are incredible machines...make PCs look like toys. They don't build 'em like they used to.

    Maybe I'll fire up my MicroVAX II on Sept 30 for a rather noisy memorial...

  • Get a used small one (e.g. a VAXstation). They don't suck more electricity than a "normal" computer and aren't expensive at all. (watch ebay and similar places.)

  • Actually they don't make good firewalls. Two reasons, one is that there is no good firewall package for OpenVMS, at least there wasn't when I researched this a couple years ago, the only package is horribly out of date. The other reason is that yes, OpenVMS is a good platform for a server on the internet, BUT you really want to be running it on a nice Alpha, such as a DS10.

    The thing to remember about these VAXen that are still available is that they're for legacy apps. No one should be buying a VAXen for a new app, they should be buying a nice Alpha running OpenVMS. While VAXen will be a supported OpenVMS platform for at least another 8-10 years minimum, a lot of the cool new features are Alpha only.

    BTW, on a related note, you will still find a lot of DEC PDP-8's and PDP-11's still in use in commercial settings. A lot of these systems are in settings where if it works, you don't mess with it, and you sure don't put an unreliable Windows system in there place.


  • I'm on a bit of a soapbox today but I have pretty strong feelings towards VAX hardware.

    I wouldn't waste money just to run Linux on a VAX. Buy an Alpha first (the VAX's successor for VMS), it runs linux as well and I'm sure the performance is lightyears ahead of anything Linux VAX can do.

    I honestly see no reason to purchase VAX hardware in this day and age. VMS'ers should probably port applications to Alpha's before they even consider buying another VAX. (chances are they're running OpenVMS already, anyway, making it that much easier (unless its VAX assembly code))

  • by InitZero ( 14837 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2000 @12:33PM (#852004) Homepage

    do you think this ten node cluster would fit into my Residence room?

    I doubt it.

    Per a handful of email requests, I've put some snapshots [] online. Enjoy.


  • VMS unfriendly? You have got to be joking right? VMS has to be the most user friendly CLI interface out there. All your comment tells me is that you never actually used it.

    And, as some folks have already pointed out VAX != VMS. VMS runs on Alphas, and UNIX runs on VAXen.
  • I don't know about their old stuff, but their new stuff sux! They vastly outsold their ability to maintain. My company, which will remain nameless, had been very disapointed with Atex since our $500,000 install 18 months ago. We pay a lot of money to have fast tech support. Fast to Atex means when we get to it, usually sometimes next week. This is a production newspaper system. We had to spend the money because our SII system couldn't be made Y2K compliant. But that's another story.
  • In the electronics club at RPI, where I go to school, we've begun collecting old computers. (no not personal/home computers) From the DEC side, we've got:
    VAXstation 3100
    VAXstation 4 (not mentioned anywhere online, but similar shape to the VS II)
    the VAX 8530
    Yes, the 8530 is a big VAX, with a TU81+ tape drive, a minicomputer console, and some random hard drives. Since we need an OS, anyone know where we can get VMS (or Ultrix) for the thing? It needs a special 5-1/4 floppy (for bootstrapping) and a 6250bpi tape to boot/install the OS. We've already run the 3-phase power lines, and powered it up ;)

    Soon, we hope to run some kind of VAXcluster :)

    (we also have a bunch of old Sun systems, but that's besides the point)
  • holy crap!! you work(ed) for the same hospital that i do, don't you?!?!?!

    or is it just a thing that nurses REFUSE to replace their own printer paper?

  • Oops. I forgot to change the topic. At first, I was going to write what you filled in (Thank you!), but then I realised that I didn't feel like dredging up my past OS theory books to confirm what you just said.

    Anyway, I liked VMS. The VAXen I worked with were pretty decent machines too. I will miss them.

  • but that's just because it's interpreted.
    I personally used a compiler for it.
    I didn't know there also was an interpreter.
    I also played with an MSDOS DiBOL compiler that worked pefectly.
  • Just a little vms lexical humor...

    It's a shame to see them go. As much as they get dumped on, it's only out of ignorance. They've been ahead of their time for a looong time. I've worked on many a VAXen and it almost brings a tear to my eye. And no I'm not some ancient developer, I'm 25 and know better then to compare them to a silly PC...

    Both DEC and Compaq suck at marketing OpenVMS, VAX, and Alpha... Who the hell is in the marketing dept?

    Doesn anyone know if DCL is ported to any of the unices?

  • After all, where would UNIX be today if there hadn't been a VAX-11/780 around just daring someone to port UNIX to it?

    Unix would probably have done just fine without the appearance of the VAX, because it was already running on PDP-11/34 and higher models prior to that, in Versions 6 and 7 towards the end of the 70's. What might never have been born without the VAX is BSD Unix, which led the way towards fully paged VMs (V7 just swapped whole segments).

    However, there's no doubt that the competition from Berkeley made sure that AT&T kept improving V7 in order not to lag behind BSD, and so System 3 and System V became great systems largely as a result of the existence of the VAX as the platform for BSD development.

    This was the start of Free Software in the operating system area: the upstart Berkeley community started from nothing (well, I guess they eyeballed V7) and then rapidly overtook the proprietary "official Unix" from AT&T. However, AT&T weren't the evil empire, because their source code was freely available to universities and was hacked into numerous different versions. So, right from the start of the 80's, there were already a lot of competing versions of Unix, and BSD on VAXen made the whole scene even more exciting.

    Great days, very similar to today's emergence of Linux, with the big difference that there weren't any non-techies around getting in everyone's hair. Everyone in the community was a hacker, and those outside it simply weren't aware of what was going on at all.
  • I learnt to program for real on a Vax running VMS. It was a seriously unwelcoming environment at first, especially to someone used to an Atari ST with it's nice GEM desktop. But once I'd written a bunch of DCL scripts to make it a little friendlier, I found that VMS offered everything a budding programmer needs. An editor, compiler, debugger, profiler and help system. The only things I never got used to was the fact the editor didn't wrap like vi, and the help system wasn't as straightforward as using man pages.

    One thing that always struck me as odd though was the terminals. They *always* looked really old - I've never seen a Vax terminal that didn't look yellowed with age. Was this how they came from the factory, or were they made from cheap plastic that went a funny colour really quick?

    And if anyone knows where I can pick up a dirt-cheap VT100 terminal please let me know. A former colleague used to have one hanging of the serial port of his PC with emacs running on it!!!

  • The above subject should be sung by a chorus of munchkins, who immediately afterwards will be hired by outsource companies to take care of corporate legacy Vaxen until well into my retirement.

    Excuse me, I feel old now...

  • When the 11/780 came out, it made CG possible (without getting 1 grant per image)-- look at the SIGGRAPH proceedings before and then after 1982 or 3.
    Ahh, nostalgia! I worked as an undergraduate slave^H^H^H^H^Hassistant at the Ohio State University Computer Graphics Research Group, under Charles Csuri, in 1982-1983. Our main system was an 11/780 running BSD 4.1, with a "Big Frame Buffer" (1024x768, 24bit color and 8bit Z-buffer, IIRC)

    Don't laugh, youngster, we did world class work on that machine (just s-l-o-o-o-w-l-y, like about 15 min. compute time per frame). Check out the SIGGRAPH 1983 proceedings for some samples, and look here [] for more history (along with some vintage images).

  • Yes, they always look mucky.

    But let me assure you that the plastic, although it yellows with age, is anything BUT cheap, in common with anything else with "DIGITAL" written on it...
  • I remember a few years ago, when I worked for British Gas (cough, spit). I was involved in testing a new utility billing system that was being implemented (failed miserably. horrible, off-the-shelf thing to replace a not-too-horrible bespoke thing).

    Anyway, I remember being taken around the computer centre one day, by a very sexy sysadmin.. *blush*.. and walking past the rows and rows of VAXen (not sure which models) which ran the current billing system, until we came to a little rack which held two alphas and a huge raid device, on which was a copy of the entire billing database that all those rows and rows of VAXen were employed to crunch. I remember how awed I was. Sad really.

    No point to this comment... but since this seems to be a 'memory lane' thread, I thought I would add my reminiscences.

    Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuam saxum immane mittam.
    So there.
  • As someone who spent a few years getting good on VMS running on a VAX, yours was a nice post to read.

    I just chuckle when I read some of these posts denigrating VMS as an operating's true that VMS is not open source, but is is clear that these people have no idea of the power of the OS. 99.99 % uptime was the norm for VMS when Linux was just a gleam in Linus' eye. For true 24x7x365 continuous computing, VMS is still the OS of choice for many large operations.
  • by Royster ( 16042 )
    The story times are posted in GMT. When this story was posted, it was the 16 in GMT, but still the 15th in the US.
  • by Royster ( 16042 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2000 @04:29AM (#852020) Homepage
    I fire it up a couple of times a year.

    Do you use lighter fluid or gasoline?
  • Oddly enough, our resident VAXtroll seems to have yet to post. One would think he'd have a great big rotating red klaxon above his bed to alert him when something VAX happened.

    Revenge is certainly sweet -- bwa ha ha! Though I'm sure many mainframe installations will hold on to their refrigerators for years to come, the high-end server market is now totally Unix-derived.

    The VAX promise: Obsolete early, obsolete often.

    (Okay, it works better as a VAXman reference than as an actual phrase...)

    -grendel drago
  • by Jason Scott ( 18815 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2000 @04:31AM (#852022) Homepage
    A number of years ago, I was working for a Video Game Company [] that had split off of another video game company [] and which, sad to say, wasn't doing entirely well. Like many start-ups, financial problems were beginning to loom and I hadn't recieved a paycheck in a while. So it was with great reluctance that I started looking for a new job to start paying my own bills again.

    I decided to go with a company called "Information Access Company", which was in need of a UNIX Administrator, as they were expanding into the UNIX market at their hosting company. Expanding from what? Well, from VAXes and VMS. Information Access Company had started as a consulting firm run by two ex-Digital developers who had worked on the VMS operating system, and had eventually been bought by Ziff-Davis and then sold to the Thomson Corporation (an Extremely Huge Company). The point of mentioning all that is that this company had gone through a lot of changes, but there was one shining point when it looked like it was going to be important indeed.

    It seems that for a while AT&T was going to get into the online service buisness, to compete with Compuserve, AOL (this was early 90's when it still looked possible to) and MSN. The name of this online service was going to be Interchange, and to achieve this, they used VAXes for the vast majority of hardware. After putting millions into this project, AT&T decided to pull the plug and not go into that business (which is why you've never heard of Interchange) and the company turned its attention to other kinds of hosting.

    How big a project was this? Well, it's been told to me by the people who were there that our building at one point had the largest non-government amount of VAX hardware in the United States, and therefore probably the world. This is a lot of VAX.

    This project attracted some very talented people, people who really knew their butter when it came to VMS. Me, being 25 and cocky, thought of VMS as this clunky, horrible thing with terrible interfaces, no graphics, and was for all purposes dead. I was pretty much giving off that attitude in front of the old-timers, as I happily turned up Solaris Box after Solaris Box, snickering as I had 4 or 5 Ultra 2s in the same place as one of their massive tape drives.

    Well, let me tell you, if you've never seen VMS and VAXes run by people who are true and honest wizards at it, you haven't seen the true power of that OS. Probably one of the most impressive things about VMS that I saw was their Clustering, which is just starting to make appearances in UNIX and Linux and the like. In VMS, the Clustering was True; that is, you literately had multiple machines that were, for all purposes the same machine, down to the hardware, doing the same work, and you could take individual machines down for servicing while leaving the others up, and the customers would never know. The whole setup would just deal with it. That's an easy one off the top of my head, but there's many magical things I saw the wizards accomplish. I quickly learned to focus on what I knew, and not just fly with my Grand Opinions off the top of my head. Thank goodness I learned it back THEN.

    So, you think that eventually they threw out all their VAXes and the company just runs Pentium 800mHz rackmounts? Why, no, in fact. In fact, a lot of VAXes are still in use at this facility, and an on-site tech from Compaq/Digital continues to work there full time maintaining the boxes via a contract with Compaq. Many of the wizards have left but in some cases work for companies that still host at that facility, working on VMS.

    VMS has a hell of a learning curve, but like many things in life, witnessing people who are at the top of that learning curve was magic itself.

    Here's some files from my site,, that give a little history or at least humor (and therefore a feeling for them) about VAX, VMS, and Digital:

    VMS Hacking Files []
    VAXOLOGY: A Poem about Vaxes []
    Alice in DIGITALand []
    God Logs Into his Vax []

    And the Ultimate VAX War Story. []

    If you're only in the mood to read one file, read that last one.

    There's other classic VAX/VMS files on, including the VAX TREK series; I'll be sure to get them to an easy to find place very soon.

  • Forgive me my ignorance... but what exactly do you mean, "make PCs look like toys"? What is it about VAXen that's so great? What do they *do*? Is it the hardware? Is it the OS? An amazing support department? What?

    -grendel drago
  • As stated above:

    VAX Linux is dead.
    VAX FreeBSD is dead.
    NetBSD has a nearly-working port.

    Oh, stop whining, BSD is remarkably similar...

    -grendel drago
  • Imagine a beowulf cluster of these! You might be able to get what, 486, maybe even 486dx2 speeds!
  • Interesting. This is beginning to stray a bit offtopic, but what the heck.

    I had a very similar thing happen to my Mac over the weekend. MacOS began hanging and wouldn't complete the boot process, yet LinuxPPC still ran like a champ. It perplexed the hell out of me since even the MacOS install CD wouldn't complete booting, so it wasn't that hard drive. Turns out I fixed it when I pulled all the memory chips and put them back in, but I wonder if something similar was going on? Probably not, but interesting anyway...

    • What might never have been born without the VAX is BSD Unix, which led the way towards fully paged VMs (V7 just swapped whole segments).

    BSD Unix was born on PDP-11s, not VAXen. In fact, the first version of BSD Unix for the VAX 11/780 was outperformed by the then current version of BSD Unix for the PDP-11/70.

    BTW, fully paged VMs predate both the VAX and Unix.

    -Jordan Henderson

  • (sigh)

    Cobol using MVS JCL, next semester.

    Kill me.

    Erik Z
  • The AS/400 has come a long way from the green screen days of the 80s...

    Yes, now it also comes in amber and white!

  • The only thing I really wished the CLI for VMS had was easy piping and file redirection ability. Its a lot easier to do >f1.txt than "SET SYS$OUTPUT F1.TXT".

    I saw that 7.x does finally support piping but its nowhere near as elegant as the | command in UNIX IMO.

    On a sorta similar note to your filesystem gripe, I never liked having to set up symbols just to run programs with command line arguments either. It seemed stupid. The run command should have either let you pass arguments in as well, or type the text that one put into a symbol into the command line and have it work.

    Otherwise, the OS is pretty incredible. It has all the power of an real operating system, like UNIX, and then some, while still being pretty user friendly (as far as CLI user friendliness goes).

  • and 350 PCs running NT for the client side. *snip* We expect we will have to replace the new system in five years.

    1. You had PC's running NT just to connect to a VAX? Or if they were running other stuff, surely, then...

    2. You'd have had to upgrade in 5 years amyway, Except, there's no reason to. If your kit works then don't replace it. We have QPS (Quark publishing system) running on Mac LCIII's which are nearly 10 years old now - and being Mac's are the real newspaper publisher's tool), and are only upgrading to get something meaty enough to run web browsers :)

    Atex (which, it must be said, is shit) and/or VAX dont have inherent up-to-dateness, it's no feature of theirs that you've not had to upgrade.

  • Why on earth would I do that when I can have REAL clustering via VMS? Silly, silly person, go away.
  • For those who've only managed UNIX and/or God forbid -- NT systems, you haven't experienced true sysadmin nirvana until you've performed a rolling upgrade of a VMScluster. With multiple system disks, you can run a mixed-version cluster while the upgrade is in progress. Pick a system disk, upgrade it, reboot the other machines attached to it, and voila! It's done. Repeat for each system disk until the cluster upgrade is complete. Then go home and get a good night's sleep.

    All this without losing system availability.

    Sure parts of the cluster may be unavailable, but never the whole enchilada at once.

    You can't do that with your systems. ;)

    Switching topics here...

    I don't about other admins, but one thing I've noticed about VAX/VMS systems, almost from the very beginning -- end users HATED it. They loathed it.

    It made them stomp
    and stammer
    and scream
    and holler
    and cuss
    and spit.

    My first real job (back in college, about 15 years ago) consisted of migrating programs (written in the holiest of languages, BASIC-PLUS-2), from a PDP 11/70 (running RSTS/E -- KICKASS BABY!) to VAX BASIC on a VAX 11/780. The end result was a nearly transparent switch-over. Some things were different, this was unavoidable. But it's hard to screw up a menu driven interface run over dumb terminals. Basically, the users' lives went on pretty much as before.

    But they HATED the new system. It was faster, it could hold more users, it had new features we could take advantage of, but they hated it. It didn't run the same, it didn't feel right, things ran differently, yada yada yada, and so on. They bitched constantly.

    So, over the course of 15 years and several jobs later, I've been listening to users bitch about how the VAX sucks rocks (no need to throw in your 2 cents worth, I've heard it all before).

    In my experience, a negative opinion concerning the VAX has been nearly universal. Now, I'm not disputing a legion of disgruntled VMS users. But, you should see how badly things are fsck'ed up at my last job. New management came in and declared the VAX "Evil" and NT "Good". So, they set about a complete system migration over to Windoze NT. Oh, did I mention part of this involved migrating to Oracle? Running on NT!

    That's when I left. Hehe.

    I guess the moral of this story is, "be careful what you ask for."

    Doody, doody, do!
    I am John.
  • by pwhysall ( 9225 )
    It's that VAXen and their like are Proper Computers, the like of which few /.ers have ever heard of, let alone used.

    The comments here mostly from the people who have used, adminned and programmed these beautiful machines.

    The rest are from peons like you who haven't.

  • I don't know about their old stuff, but their new stuff sux!

    Atex was the best publishing system in the world through the mid-80s. Unfortunately, they lost sight of the ball. Instead of scrapping the J11 base, they insisted on building on top of it. All their old time programmers (who were damn good) left the company to spinoffs. (XyWrite was probably the best of them, by the way. Still a top wordprocessor.)

    Same goes for the other American publishing system companies. Europe, who bit the bullet and went fully-paginated in the late 80s and early 90s jumpped way ahead.

    Fast to Atex means when we get to it, usually sometimes next week.

    That's normal. Same for CCI. Same for SII. Same for DTI.

    We had to spend the money because our SII system couldn't be made Y2K compliant.

    We blew a load of cash to upgrade Atex knowing that we would be throwing it away this August. That extra eight months cost us big.

    As for SII, we're using that, too. Editorial uses CCI. Classified uses SII. I feel your pain.

    On top of two new system installs, we're doing web width reduction and a full redesign.

    I never would have guessed Slashdot would have had this many newspaper folks hanging around. Of course, everyone else considers this thread off-topic. Which it probably is.


  • I'll take HELP over man any day.

    man is great for the admin and the programmer; if you are intimate with the guts of the system.

    But HELP was comprehensive and aimed at the user.

    And DCL - had its own version of command completion (just type as many chars as required to distinguish commands), a basic like syntax, and and all commands had an absolutely regular syntax, unlike Unix commands.

    Sometime I miss the old vaxcluster. Usually after I've got the argument order to ln wrong *again*.
  • The chip really based on the VAX was the National Semiconductor 32016 and 32032. I'm not sure that chip ever made it out of test marketing.

    I assume the second sentence is joking; the first Sequent machines (Balance) were NS32K-based, as were Encore's first machines. Sequent switched to 386's for the Symmetry machines - I forget what Encore did.

    There was also a PC532 [], which was a home-brew NS32532 design for which there's a NetBSD port.

  • A bit of sadness on the end of an era... the first VAX that I used was an 11/780 under VMS 2.something. I'd just gotten out of college where we had Version 6 of Unix (back in the days when you'd get Unix from Bell Labs) running on a PDP 11/34.

    The VAXen (at least the "big box" versions) were one of the few successful machines to have "writable control store" -- when I ended up being system manager some years later for an 11/730, it meant that I had to keep the tape with the "standard" instruction set in the machine whenever I wasn't using that weird little drive for something else -- otherwise the machine couldn't reboot after a power failure.

    My main impressions where that VMS Ver. 2.x was quite a bit behind Unix. However, it kept improving while the basic Unix was more-or-less stagnating, so that by VMS Ver. 5.2 it was a much better OS than Unix. However, two things have led to success for Unix: much wider distribution on many more platforms (especially with Linux), and NFS being "seamless".

    Either system, however, was far superior to the others that I used in the same time period (e.g., IBM's VM/360 -- yeuch).

    By far the biggest hole in all Unix file systems is that of "versioning" -- this was a very powerful tool when used properly under VMS. The EDT editor also had a nifty "journaling" system where it recorded every keystroke in a file so if something when wrong (e.g., the wall outlet crashed) you could recover all but the last few keystrokes. Real fun to watch! :-)

    One memory I won't miss from the early VMS days (it was fixed later) was having to program around bugs in the debugger!

    One other point of trivia: In the last years that I worked much on a VAX, I frequently had to do things that I knew would take it an hour or so to do -- so I would go for a walk while I waited. Unfortunately, the newer machines are much faster, and we have "distributed builds", so I can barely go for a cup of coffee. Has had a BIG negative impact on my health. :-(
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I seem to recall an old story about VMS vs Unix...

    It seems that, once upon a time, these folks had a problem with their memory. Under VMS, the memory worked fine. Under UNIX, the system crashed randomly and unpredictably. The hardware was unchanged. Only the software, the OS, was altered.

    The problem was eventually traced back to the RAM itself. It seems that, INSIDE the memory chips, the refresh pin had NOT been connected up.

    DRAM is based around small capacitors. These capacitors lose their charge over time, so they require periodic refreshing. Normally, the refresh period is measured in milliseconds. But, upon experimentation, it was discovered that these RAM chips could last for up to a second or two between refreshes.

    Now, refreshing could occur in one of two ways. It could be explicitly done through the refresh pin. Or you could access the memory, which would refresh a subset of that RAM. (The entire row, column, whatever...) This was a side effect of reading the memory value, which erased the capacitance charge, and caused it to be reset through a process internal to the RAM chip as part of the read cycle.

    VMS, in all its glory, accessed all the memory frequently enough to keep it refreshed.

    UNIX did not.

    Bug. Feature. You decide.

  • I've got OpenVMS 7.2 on a PWS 500au ... it is quite a machine, but it doesn't have that brute force feel of the VAX hardware. Now if I could only get a hold of the Alpha version of the Hobbiest CD, I'd be set. I spent my last bit of "fun money" on the VAX CD!

    I wish they'd make it a downloadable ISO image

  • I used VMS for 2 years professionally (2+ while getting my undergrad) in a group filled with the wizards you speak of. I would have to agree with you that VMS is a solid operating system and can do some wonderous stuff.

    Unfortunately, in this day in age, who in their right mind would buy VAX hardware to run VMS. Performance-wise Alphas that cost the same, will run circles around VAXes. You still have all the ability to cluster them. Programming on them is considerably easier in many cases. I ask to anybody, why would you go out and buy a new VAX (not counting to replace existing hardware)? Only thing I can thing of is for clustering, but is it possible to effectively cluster an Alpha with a VAX?

  • The VAX hardware is finally going away, but the ancient binaries will still run on an Alpha running OpenVMS. And it will run faster.

    Without a trusted emulator, they wouldn't retire the hardware.

    My first VAX was an 11/750 running Ultrix 1.0, which was 4.2 BSD with some strings changed in scripts and man pages. Sun's were cheaper and faster back then. It took 27 years for the market place to realize that VAXen are obsolete! That is market inertia.

  • About 5 years ago a friend checked, and DEC was still selling the (in)famious PDP11!

    Now if this is just a few models, I'm not too worried, but if this is the entire VAX line, Compaq is in trouble - they just killed any chance of being the next DEC. Unlike the PC world, DEC supported their old stuff forever.

  • Anybody catch the VAXBar [] link? I *want* one of these!
  • Never crashed a Vax? Wow, I'm impressed. I used to crash my lab's vax all the time. Of course I was feeding it things like the logistics equation through poorly written Fortran. I also managed to halt the whole cluster by mailbombing myself with an errant notifier program. Anyway, aside from extreme--as in stupid--computing on poorly maintained clusters, the platform was pretty solid. There were a lot clever features that saved my behind. Like, saving five versions of a file by default. Sounds redundant, sounds stupid. Not when you're a clueless science geek learning how to do real programming. The editor Eve was really cool too. Never did figure out all the things I could do with it.

  • Lizzie Borden took an ax
    And plunged it deep into the VAX;
    Don't you envy people who
    Do the things you'd like to do?
  • Compaq wished VMS was dead.

    They already tried to pull the plug on it once, but the outcry from corporate customers was too great. And with Compaq, where there's support contracts, there's business.

    I've been expecting for about a year the announcement "OpenVMS is Open Source" as an excuse for Compaq dump it.

  • by apirkle ( 40268 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2000 @04:42AM (#852048)
    Hey, cool, this is my chance to have my very own VAXbar []!

    Alas, the VAX 4000 is considerably smaller than the 11/780, but maybe we could still get a drink or two inside... {grin}

  • The AS/400 [] has come a long way from the green screen days of the 80s... Check out the new models - it might actually surprise you (heck, they run OS/400, AIX binaries, have NT available on an Integrated Netfinity Server, DB2 built (free) into the OS, the fastest JavaVM available...), has more processing power (with SOI and copper in the CPUs), mainframe-like I/O and reliability, even in the smaller models (which cost significantly less than any mainframe). I've been told they have a really low TCO, too... This is not your father's AS/400.

    (yes, I work for IBM... no secret there) Sorry to sound like a marketing droid - I'm an engineer, really...

    So trade an old AS/400 for a new one [/shameless plug]
    I'll agree with the VAX -> Alpha tradeup, though 8^)
  • I'm sure I worked for this boss as well!

    When a former customer decommissioned their network, he purchased around 20 multi-port serial cards off them, as we had sold a number of these in the past.

    What he didn't realise was that this batch of cards were 3 revisions out of date, and the current model was faster, offered more operational modes, was easier to configure, and came with better cables.

    When I left the place 3 years later, all but one was still sat on the shelf. The other I took on site with me, and was sat, still wrapped up, in my over-night bag, unused since acquired.

  • ... is that like First Post?

  • I do VMS consulting, and I see a lot of VAXen out there. Because of their dominant position when computerized control systems were first being integrated into manufacturing systems, a tremendous number of manufacturing shops had VAXen either controlling or talking to their production equipment. Because there's a major cost to upgrade and no benefit if your control software already does what you want, there are still a lot of VAXen in use. (I think Intel finally got their fabs off of them. Micron went to alphas. AMD uses both. PG&E's got some of their real-time power transfer stuff on VAXen. I see a lot of VAX or even older PDP based stuff integrated into older test equipment at every chip maker I've visited.)
  • I remember when I started working, the company that first hired me (Sybron Taylor Instrument Division) got in a 11/780. 2 Meg of memory, next to no disk space, a cross-compiler for the 68K-based devices we were developing code for (running on the MTOS real-time operating system). 30 terminals, all compiles had to go through the batch queue so that one person wouldn't kill the system. What a great day it was when they bought the extra 2 Meg of memory to make it 4 Meg! Gawd, a TRG Pro w/ an IBM CF hard drive is more powerful than that beast!

    I think that the VAX/VMS days harken back to an earlier era (one that Rob Pike bemoaned the loss of in his recent Polemic, "System Research is Irrelevant"). I feel the loss, but it's more like a child-who's-now-become-an-adult feeling. I really want to say something like "You kids don't know how hard it was in the good old days" but I really don't think that's important. The VAX is dead. Sleep well. We're all moving on.
  • Because customers want it?

    Seriously, if it works don't break it is a common additude for customers. My dad works for a company that has sold one comptuer product for 15 years. Customers have looked into replacing it, but it turns out nothing will do the job, much less do it better. So they sit with 15 year old technology in the face of nothing better.

    REmember better is the key. Change for Change's sake isn't good. They have a buisness to run, procedures and programs that work. Some day PCs will hit the limit. Where I don't know, it might be the laws of physics won't let chips go faster, it might jsut be that they are fast enopugh (ie it can drive your true immersion enviroment for your games at in the hardest mode with power to spare. (true immersion means smell, sound, wrap around sight, walk to control, feels like holding a chainsaw vs a gun...)

  • 1) modern VMS can use the / directory specifications

    2) the use of device:[directory.subdirectory.etc]filename should be heavily discouraged because of the power of VMS logicals. That last form foo$bar:myfile is a wonderful thing. It's a device:[directory.etc] specification condensed into a logical, foo$bar. Get your users used to it and you can move home directorys all over the place and by redefining a few logicals, the changes really are transparent. The features I miss most from VMS that Unices lack are the layered logicals (process, job, system) and the versioning file system.

  • Our university has announced that in a few months it's last remaining Alpha server will be shut down and we'll now have web based e-mail instead. (UGH!) That means no more VMS. Alphas aren't exactly cheap, so this might be a nice way to keep OpenVMS alive on our campus!
  • VAX rolls down stairs,
    alone or in pairs,
    rolls over your neighbors dog.

    Its great for a hack,
    it fits in a rack, (a big one)
    its VAX, VAX, VAX.

    Its VAAAX, its VAAAX,
    its big, its heavy, its wood (well not really)

    it VAAAX, its VAAAX, its better than bad, its good

    Everyone wants a VAX (not really again)
    You're gonna love it VAX (from Compaq)

    Sorry, couldn't resist....

  • Please E-mail me. I may be able to help. Four problems need to be overcome but I do not have the time tonight to research.

    What versions can you run, can we get it on the correct media, is the 5 1/4 media that I think I still have the correct media, and getting permission to copy media from DECUS.

    The last is a formality but I will not violate the hobbyist licence if I can at all avoid it. They give me thousands of dollars of free software and I try very hard to stick to the letter of the license.

  • Run your own VAX at home for fun and profit. Learn how here []!
  • by Tet ( 2721 ) <.ku.oc.enydartsa. .ta. .todhsals.> on Wednesday August 16, 2000 @04:45AM (#852067) Homepage Journal
    Had a VAX account once a long time back, but I'd already seen Unix and wasn't impressed.

    While it's true that VAX and VMS have gone together for a long time, everyone seems to forget that Unix ran on VAX machines in days of old. Thus the phrase "a VAX account" doesn't actually mean much...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Its a combination of the hardware and OS. We've been running a VAX 4000 for several years with no downtime. No crashes. Nothing. Kind of makes it boring to be one of the VAX admins!

    The hardware, while slowish by todays standards, is solid. I've got an RA82 (623M SDI disk) that has 14" platters and a serial port on the front so you can do diagnostics on the drive itself with a dumb terminal.

    The OS (usually VMS) is very robust and does stuff that other OSes are just now getting to: clustering. Don't give me that beowulf crap, I want VMS-style clustering for linux. Disks could be shared between nodes (at the block level) as well as process queues.

    Don't get me wrong, Linux is very cool. I love it and use it as my primary platform, but I have a soft spot for VMS...

    I run NetBSD on my MicroVAX II (Don't let the name confuse you: its in a 4' tall enclosure) and for being slower than the original VAX (from 77), its quite usable.

  • The title is an allusion to the game Wolfenstein 3D but I remember this excellent editor with its learning features.
    I remember once having to modify a huge program (in DiBOL, a cool language, hybrid between Basic and C) and recording a small macro that did the whole thing instantaneously...
    I also loved their terminal : conected to to servers at once, one could copy from one console to the other a very efficient nd intuitive way... of course, now with X-like interface this sounds silly but then, years ago, it was revolutionary onan X-less machine.
    God bless Digital :-)
  • How doth the VAX's C compiler
    Imrove its object code.
    And even as we speak does it
    Increase the system load.

    How patiently it seems to run
    And spit out error flags.
    While users, with frustration,
    Tear all their clothes to rags.

    Or better yet,

    Speak roughly to your little VAX,
    And boot it when it crashes;
    It knows that one cannot relax
    Because the paging thrashes!

    Wow! Wow! Wow!

    I speak severely to my VAX,
    And boot it when it crashes;
    In spite of all my favorite hacks
    My jobs it always thrashes!

    Wow! Wow! Wow!

    Yes, I spend too much time running "fortune."
  • Now that you mention it, the plastic does seem to yellow after some years :-)

    Not that I'm still using a VT101 (never quite understood why pine and other programs would confuse the term, after all if it's a VT101, it's supposed to be VT100 compatible, right?), but it's funny to notice on my desk (I have an extra-large one :) that the VT320 case does not have the same color as the keyb I use with it (an LK401 I found in our dump) or the same color as my 19" BW monitor (VR319) or the 19" color monitor (VRT19).

    Talking of the VR319, the one I was using blew-up on me (actually, it just smoked and the screen collapsed into a single spot, just like in the movies 8) and this is quite a bad news for me, because I was using it for displaying my medical images (CT scans), while doing the color 3D rendering on the VRT19...

    Do you know know if compaq still sells 19" BW monitors? Last I checked, there was some kind of exchange program [] but I could not find the specs of the advertised monitor (PCXAV Auto-Scan, Monochrome Grayscale Monitor) anywhere else...


  • isn't Atex the firm which was sued for their non ergonomic keyboard?

    Yes. In fact, Atex was hit so hard, they decided to stop producing keyboards. I believe it was the first ergo case of this kind.

    When Atex stopped making keyboards, a company calling itself Xeta started. Xeta is Atex backwards.


  • There's an html bug.
    The rest of the comment is here [].
  • The plastic on the early terminals (VT52, VT100) did yellow with age from exposure to UV from flourescent lights. This was quite common in the industry. Digital devised a formula for plastic that didn't yellow and offered it to other manufacturers at no charge - it was used in VT3xx and later models. Nowadays we take it for granted.

    Digital also pioneered the use of water for cleaning circuit boards.

    Steve Lionel

  • by Erbo ( 384 ) <> on Wednesday August 16, 2000 @08:29AM (#852091) Homepage Journal
    Dunno what your comment had to do with WinNT, but I'll help fill in...

    Many of the internal concepts of VMS (such as the scheduler and priority system, deferred and asynchronous procedure calls, interrupt handling, and memory layout) were made part of Windows NT, probably due to the fact that Dave Cutler, the chief architect of Windows NT, had previously done VMS for DEC, and brought a bunch of ex-VMS people with him when he jumped to M$. (There's a longer story behind this, you can get it here [].)

    I n fact, there's a joke that you can tell that NT follows VMS by just adding one to each letter of "VMS" - you get "WNT," or "Windows NT." (This is similar to the "HAL vs. IBM" joke that people pointed out around the time of 2001: A Space Odyssey.)

    Of course, then M$ had to go crapping up the design, as they usually do...but that's hardly VMS' fault :-). And, as the referenced aticle will show, some of NT's better-known misfeatures, such as the Registry, were "backported" to VMS later...dunno what that says about DEC/Compaq...


  • I checked into playing with an AS/400 a few months back, but was stymied by the near-vertical learning curve. Seems like you need to understand the whole complex system to write a 'hello world' program.

    I'd like to try again someday, though, because I admire the quality and stability of the system.



  • Btw, does anyone still use VMS in new applications anymore? and what other architectures does it run on? Dabbled with it in college, because we received both a unix and a VMS shell account, but unix and I hit it off, and I never really used VMS.

    Message: One of the questions that comes up all the time is: How enthusiastic is our support for UNIX?

    Unix was written on our machines and for our machines many years ago. Today, much of UNIX being done is done on our machines. Ten percent of our VAXs are going for UNIX use. UNIX is a simple language, easy to understand, easy to get started with. It's great for students, great for somewhat casual users, and it's great for interchanging programs between different machines. And so, because of its popularity in these markets, we support it. We have good UNIX on VAX and good UNIX on PDP-11s.

    It is our belief, however, that serious professional users will run out of things they can do with UNIX. They'll want a real system and will end up doing VMS when they get to be serious about programming.

    With UNIX, if you're looking for something, you can easily and quickly check that small manual and find out that it's not there. With VMS, no matter what you look for - it's literally a five-foot shelf of documentation - if you look long enough it's there. That's the difference - the beauty of UNIX is it's simple; and the beauty of VMS is that it's all there.

    - Ken Olsen, President of DEC, 1984

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...QBus. Lots of people (too many, if you ask me) still relied on proprietary QBus cards for embedded applications and such. Lots of these cards only worked on certain revs of VMS, which is why the 3 they still sell all say "VMS 5.5-2 compatible" (when the current release is 7.2-1). That's the only thing keeping a lot of those older VAX shops from moving completely to Alpha. Those that didn't have weird legacy hardware requirements probably already went to VMS on Alpha a long time ago. (I did the port for the VMS shop I used to work for about 4 years ago) All of the non-QBus VAXes have been dead for a while now. I've got 6 VAXstations at home, one of which has VMS 6.2 on it. It's still a neat system to play with. One of the others has NetBSD/VAX on it. (Some progress is being made with Linux on the VAX, but NetBSD runs on more VAX models at this point.) The other 4 are going up on eBay one of these days when I get around to it...
  • by stevel ( 64802 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2000 @05:48AM (#852104) Homepage
    The major reason Compaq is saying "last call" on new VAX systems is that it can't build them anymore. Back when Bob Palmer sold off DIGITAL's semiconductor FAB in Hudson, MA, to Intel, a "final" production run of VAX processor chips was done. The prediction was that they had enough to fulfill all conceivable demand for the future. How wrong they were...

    Customers snapped up new VAX systems very quickly, especially the higher-end models. What they were left with was the VAX 4000 series, but now, the chips for those have run out too, so it's time to pull the plug.

    VAX systems are still widely used within "the company formerly known as DEC" - our compiler development group uses a VAXcluster as its central server (of course, we have many Alpha systems as well.) Myself, I'm the entire "VAX Fortran project", though there hasn't been much to do there in the past few years.

    I know that VAX systems are still popular with customers too - many of them don't need the added performance of Alpha and find that VAX "just works" for them. Of course, OpenVMS continues to support VAX systems with new releases.

    Steve Lionel

  • >I have never seen a VAX hang nor being halted for any reason.

    Ahh, memories. While at Purdue Cal 82-86 I worked as a studen lab asst. We had an 11/780 that had far too many users on it, probably at least 80 during the day, maxed 120 at night when all the night-class crowd shuffled down to do their assignments. It stood up pretty well until our moron grad student DB instructor decided to us UW-RIM to teach relational.

    That killed it. It would hang or crash every night. We had to institute a policy of no more than 4 DB students running their project at a time to keep the poor thing on its feet.

    I did love VMS, though. Still have a swiped VT-100 terminal and a set of VMS manuals in my garage somewhere. Sorry to see the line come to an end.
  • The only Vax I want to save is the famous moskvax [] . I saw it when it was first unveiled.
  • While it's true that VAX and VMS have gone together for a long time, everyone seems to forget that Unix ran on VAX machines in days of old. Thus the phrase "a VAX account" doesn't actually mean much...

    Furthermore, VMS has run on the Alpha's since their inception. I think it's safe to say that most major remaining VMS sites (like the one Jason mentioned) have moved their processing units to Alpha-based hardware. So while most "VAX accounts" have disappeared, there are still plenty of "VMS accounts".


  • by Anonymous Coward
    I still think that VMS is the best thing since sliced bread, eventhough I haven't touched it since 1994 (UNIX, then Linux since). It has all the capability, much better security, better batch job handling (cron sucks in comparison), and something all Unices lack - consistency across commands.

    It really sucks that Ken Olson couldn't figure out what Cuttler was telling him. It also sucks that Digital couldn't figure out how to sell the great OS that they had. VMS ran well in an 8MB workstation long before NT was a pipe dream. It still runs faster, in less space, more reliably than the commercial Unices, and has far more capability than Linux (sorry, but VMS has been clustering commercially for more than a decade, and had a journaling file system more than five years ago).

    Yet another example of superior technology getting toasted by poor marketing and sales. Sigh...

  • Recalling my experiences with a VAX, I'm reminded of a well intentioned project gone awry. The University of California at Santa Cruz had a VAX farm, running BSD of course (since BSD was developed at UC Berkeley, a sister campus).

    The "public" system -ucscb- was an old PDP/10 (with magnetic core memory) had achieved the highest Unix load numbers I had seen up to this point. They would not allow screen-graphic games (like rogue, etc.) to be played until after 6pm. Every night just after 6pm, the load numbers would shoot up to 20-30 (meaning, supposedly, the equivalent of 20-30 people using the full power of the computer at the same time, means the 100 or so users logged on were running serious CPU hogs)! They eventually replaced this machine with a 68020 based mini-computer (they had no funds to buy a new public system, but figured out the reduced maintenance costs would break-even in less than a year).

    The highest real world load numbers I ever saw came from an undergrad class. It was some type of intro to data algorithms class, and the TA?s wanted to make the class interesting. They introduced the concept of Alpha-Beta pruning, a technique used for game AI. They supplied an Othello program, with vital parts of the AI removed. The idea was that the students would rewrite the AI. Great concept, but they did not quite realize what they were letting loose.

    This was a traditional UC big undergrad class ? around 220 people. They were assigned 3 VAX 11/750 (about half the speed of the classic 11/780). Picture 70 people per VAX, compiling 3000 line C programs at the same time. I personally saw load numbers of 60, and was told it hit a peak of 79. It took vi about 10 minutes to open a file, and a simple line down (pressing the ?j? key) took over a minute. Needless to say, quite a few people never managed to finish that project!

  • by Ouija ( 93401 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2000 @04:05AM (#852146)
    Friends, Geeks, Hackerdom!
    Lend me your bandwidth!
    I come to bury VAX, not praise it.
    The Evil of a platform lives after it.
    The good oft is interred with the decommissioned hardware.
    So let it be with VAX.
  • > Had a VAX account once a long time back, but I'd already seen Unix and wasn't impressed.

    I presume you're actually comparing VMS to Unix, rather than the VAX.

    I suspect that most people, including myself, use what they saw first as the benchmark for normality among computer systems.

    Unlike you, I saw VMS before I saw Unix, and also unlike you, I still think the VMS way is superior in many regards.

    If VMS were free, Free, ran on commodity hardware, and had an "agressive mindshare" like Linux does, I would probably be using it instead. It truly has some nifty features.

    (Damn! There went my hard earned reputation as a Linux bigot.)

  • As a person who has spent many all-nighters coding away in ASM without a macro-assembler, CISC does not look too bad.

    LOL. Ah, yes. I remember, from my days at Unnamed U., that the VAX they still had in use as a student machine had an assembler instruction to evaluate an arbitrary length polynomial equation. Now that's what I call an instruction set!

    We also had a MicroVAX in the department I worked as an admin from time to time. The thing was a true crawling horror, but we kept it around because one old guy refused to give it up. Then one day, it actually caught on fire. Said old guy was still logged into it remotely (without problems!) when we killed the power to stop the smoke. After that, though, it never booted again.
  • by InitZero ( 14837 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2000 @06:16AM (#852153) Homepage

    On August 25, 2000, the company I work for is going to be turning off its ten-node clustered PDP-11 (M-11 upgraded!). This computer system (Atex -- a newspaper publishing system also used by the Supreme Court) was installed in 1972 and still works like a charm.

    At the height of production, we had over 240 users on the system. All with just 40 meg of memory (four meg in each of the ten nodes; I can't boot a single-user instance of NT in just 40 meg). I've been working on this system for five years and it's older than I am. In the last eleven years, we've not had a single minute of unscheduled down time that has had a production impact.

    In order to replace Atex, we bought three 12-processor RS/6000 S7As with 10 gig of RAM between them running AIX and 350 PCs running NT for the client side.

    Our Atex system produced a daily newspaper (okay, maybe there were some reporters helping out, too) for 28 years. We expect we will have to replace the new system in five years.

    They sure don't make machines like they used to. If you every have an opportunity to work on some of these systems, take it. You will learn a great deal.


    (If anyone knows of a good home for these ten nodes and related equipment, drop me email. Paying customers would be our first choice. Musuems are number two. Private citizens with more money than brains always welcome. {grin})

  • At the University of Kansas, they had to install a furnice in the computer center after they got rid of their old VAXen and replaced them with Alpha stations. They used to use the excess heat from the VAXen to heat the building, but had to come up with an alternative heating source when those machines were decomissioned.

  • Read my lips .....

    ....... no more Vaxes !
  • Seems by the lack of comments that these machines really have seen their day. I've never used one, and wouldn't know what to type if i did see one.

    What's funny is that in the late 1980s, UNIX had really had it's day too. You'd frequently see articles about how UNIX was a relic from fifteen years ago, and how it was being replaced by smaller, more lightweight operating systems. That UNIX was revived is as incredible as if the VAX had become the next Commodore 64.
  • Hmmm, wonder if that was intentional or unconscious.
  • ...the VAX hardware architecture, which from my memories is based on the PDP-11, and was the foundation for processor architectures like 68K.
    Here's where I show my age.

    VAX indeed grew out of PDP-11. In the early 80's, the PDP line was struggling with its 16-bit address space. When Digital went to design the "next generation", they made the then-bold move of going to a 32-bit system with true virtual memory rather than a 24-bit one. VAX stood for "virtual address extension" according to the DEC marketing stuff I heard once.

    However, the 68K architecture had little to do with VAX. As a matter of fact, when I was part of a group in the year *cough* *cough* porting from VAX to 68K machines, one constant nuisance was the difference in byte order ("big-endian" vs. "little-endian").

    The chip really based on the VAX was the National Semiconductor 32016 and 32032. I'm not sure that chip ever made it out of test marketing.

    We now return you to the 21st century....

  • Its easy (these days) to dump on the Vax architecture. When it first came out, it was a bit of a marvel. These were the days when your memory was $3200 for a 256k byte plane of 72 bit ecc memory and cisc was the only way to go because of that fact. As a decendent of RSX-11M, VMS was an easy to use stable multi-user, real-time, multitasking os. Things that I still don't see in M$ products.

    One thing that should be said is that the failure of the Vax line was a momument to the incompetance of Ken Olsen. His arrogance as to the future of the pc and his clueless marketing approach doomed Digital and the Vax line.

  • Circa 1989-96. Ran Ultrix 3.2 on it. Other than innumerable problems with the serial port servers and terminal connections it ran like a Russian truck. I don't think we rebooted it for other than maintenance one time, ever. Never Ever. It was a single purpose machine hosting one clinical nursing application. Unfortunately the user base was a group of overworked abused nurses who would come into work in the morning and promptly hose getty to their terminal and then tell their manager (who they hated) that the the system was down. They also put in help desk calls to put more paper in the printer. But on it's own the machine was one stable MoFo.
  • What sort of frame rate we can get with Quake 3 and how it compares to a tbird 1ghz with a Geforce ultra.

    Seems by the lack of comments that these machines really have seen their day. I've never used one, and wouldn't know what to type if i did see one.

    A bit of a shame but on the other hand it's not at all.
  • by pricorde ( 124290 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2000 @04:11AM (#852168)
    VAXen are incredible pieces of hardware. I own an old VAX Server 4000-200. (roughly equivalent to a 386DX33, 16Mb RAM) Now that everybody have linux at home, having a VAX at home is still very uncommon. The boot sequence in itself is a nice show. Altrough not very usefull to date women... ("Did you want to come home to see my VAX booting ?") Unfortunately, VMS is way too cryptic for me, but courageous folks are working hard to port NetBSD to VAX architecture. Now I can netboot NetBSD on the VAX, but the internal DSSI disks support is still lacking.
  • thats the best solution for em - doorstops. while we're at it can we obsolete AS/400s as well ? I've used both and both of em (VMS & OS/400) have to be the most damn unfriendly OSes to use - EVER. hey ibm - how bout dumping those midrange machines and replacing em with AIX boxen ? Or better yet - offer trade ups for old VAXen to alphas and AS/400s to S/390s.
  • [VAX] was the foundation for processor architectures like 68K.

    And, elsewhere in this thread, someone said the VAX was the model for 386 protected mode.

    I don't know for sure, but in both cases I wonder if the people are making statements based on a cursory reading of history rather than actual historical documents (or people, such as the original architects)?

    Reason being, before the 68K, aka 68000, there was the 68C, aka 6800, which predated the VAX.

    I'd guess that the 6800 was strongly influenced by the PDP-11, which also influenced the VAX, and that the 68000 was strongly influenced by the 6800, probably moreso than by the VAX.

    (Historical note: a friend of mine built a homebrew 6800 system, later permanently (thank God ;-) borrowing my KSR-33 teletype with built-in acoustic coupler to serve as a console, no later than early 1977, before VAXen were on the market AFAIK.)

    Similarly, the 386 protected mode could have been largely inspired by the VAX.

    But, given its obvious ISA-level relationship to Pr1me and older Honeywell hardware (a relationship that predated the VAX as well), and the fact that Pr1mes had already evolved a ring-protection system to mimic another (old) Honeywell line (the computers designed for Multics, not the 516 or whatever the Pr1me 200 was built to emulate)...

    ...I wouldn't be surprised to find out the designers of 386 protected mode paid only passing attention to the pertinent components of the VAX architecture.

  • Of course it runs NetBSD!
    ( \
    XGNOME vs. KDE: the game! []
  • by JordanH ( 75307 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2000 @06:51AM (#852189) Homepage Journal
    • They already tried to pull the plug on it once, but the outcry from corporate customers was too great.

    This is an oft heard lie. At no time did Compaq announce or even float a plan past customers that OpenVMS was to be dropped.

    One of the big Analyst firms (Gartner?) said that they expected Compaq to stop new development on OpenVMS by the end of 2001, which has always been denied by Compaq (Compaq has published several revisions of a rolling 5-year development plan for OpenVMS since this prediction).

    It's probably just FUD from competitors who want to get into those Compaq OpenVMS shops with their wares.

    If you look at it, it doesn't make any sense at all from a business standpoint. Compaq makes $4 Billion a year from AlphaServer sales and sales of software/services/licensing to support said sales (this includes Tru64 Unix and OpenVMS). I'm not clear on the breakdowns, but OpenVMS brings in more than Tru64, I think.

    This is all very high margin stuff. Nobody in their right mind would retire this cash cow.

    -Jordan Henderson

  • by gazdean ( 71600 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `naedjg'> on Wednesday August 16, 2000 @04:15AM (#852190)
    So farewell then,
    good old vax.
    You were powerfull in your day,
    but finally unix held sway,
    or was it the pc l.a.n.,
    that did you in,
    I was never quite sure.

    Just like Ozymandias in the EDT tutorial,
    this collosal wreck will now DECay,
    Never mind.

    EJ Thribb, 17 and three quarters.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2000 @04:16AM (#852192)
    At least at Texas A&M. The physics dept had a VAX 11/780 (1 MHz!) and up to 10 simultaneous users. My first real job was graphics programming for the dept. in FORTRAN-- what a waste of money I was... They put me in the room with the printer, probably just to make me quit.

    When the 11/780 came out, it made CG possible (without getting 1 grant per image)-- look at the SIGGRAPH proceedings before and then after 1982 or 3.
  • by tsangc ( 177574 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2000 @04:16AM (#852193)
    From reading their website, Compaq is retiring off the VAX hardware architecture, which from my memories is based on the PDP-11, and was the foundation for processor architectures like 68K.

    However, VMS is not dead, so there really is a transition to new hardware with the same software infrastructure. If you're a VAX shop, buy an Alpha box, put OpenVMS on, and you're good to go.

    On the desktop, a comparison could be Apple ditching 68K for PPC-you can't buy anymore 680x0 boxen, but you can certainly still buy MacOS.


  • With heating oil prices expected to double or more this winter in New England, you might be better off sitting by the soft, warm glow of a Vax on a cold winter night. Maybe running Scicards or something. Would I have to put in a raised floor?
  • VMS was quite an outstanding OS.
    OK, not really user friendly, but once mastered it really kicked ass and I have never seen a VAX hang nor being halted for any reason.
    If VMS now evokes WNT (do a right-rot1 and you'll see) that inherited its kernel architecture, there is, IMHO, a system that obviously inherited its shell grammar from VMS : RiscOS [].
    As The StrongARM also inherited from the Alpha chip, it is obvious that Acorn Workstations were influenced by Digital (of course, this exageration is purely IMHO).
    This is a good thing for them as Acorns are usually renowned for their ease of use.
    At least one company understood Digital's radically new (in these times) technical approach and extended it to home computing.
    BTW, a Unix freak with whom I worked on a VAX4000 had completely customized his shell to look like Unix's /bin/sh. It was credible.
    Long live, Digital, you'll stay in my heart.

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. -- Albert Einstein