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/vaks/ (Virtual Address eXtension) The most successful minicomputer design in industry history, possibly excepting its immediate ancestor, the PDP-11. Between its release in 1978 and its eclipse by killer micros after about 1986, the VAX was probably the hacker's favourite machine, especially after the 1982 release of 4.2BSD Unix. Especially noted for its large, assembly code-programmer-friendly instruction set - an asset that became a liability after the RISC revolution.

VAX is also a British brand of carpet cleaner whose advertising slogan, "Nothing sucks like a VAX!" became a battle-cry of RISC partisans. It is even sometimes claimed that DEC actually entered a licencing deal that allowed them to market VAX computers in the UK in return for not challenging the carpet cleaner trademark in the US.

The slogan originated in the late 1960s as "Nothing sucks like Electrolux", Electrolux AB being a rival Swedish company. It became a classic textbook example of the perils of not knowing the local idiom, which is ironic because, according to the Electrolux press manager in 1996, the double entendre was intentional. VAX copied the slogan in their promotions in 1986-1987, and it surfaced in New Zealand TV ads as recently as 1992!


(Virtual Address eXtension) A venerable family of 32-bit computers from HP (via Digital and Compaq) introduced in 1977 with the VAX-11/780. VAX models ranged from desktop units to mainframes all running the same VMS operating system, and VAXes could emulate PDP models (Digital's first computers). Large VAX multiprocessing clusters served thousands of users.

A Very Successful Computer Line
Throughout the 1980s, software compatibility among all models caused the VAX family to achieve outstanding success for Digital. The last VAX order was taken in 1999 (for VAXstation 4000s), 22 years after the first VAX. HP supported OpenVMS on VAX through 2010 while offering migration to its 64-bit Alpha platform.

The Vax 11/780
The VAX series was an outstanding success and made Digital a major competitor of computers in all sizes from workstation to mainframe in the 1980s. This is the first VAX. (Image courtesy of Digital Equipment Corporation.)
References in periodicals archive ?
So my first interaction with computers was with a DEC VAX where I learnt to program in COBOL.
For example, PeopleSoft has about 480 DEC VAX and Alpha customers, the vast majority running OpenVMS, out of a total of 3,000 customers worldwide, but that base is only grew about 9% between 1997 and 1998.
Also, check with vendors of older Unix systems and see Compaq about any DEC VAX systems still in service to find out if these machines will work next year.
It comprises: DEC VAX host PCs running Buhler PCS90 plant management software; Siemens' S5 155H programmable logic controllers; Texas Instruments' TIRIS S2000 tag readers - one at each bin filling and mixing location - which are connected to the VAXs using serial links; TIRIS 64-bit user-programmable passive tags - one attached to the underside of each ingredient and mixing bin; and Overhead display panels near each filling and mixing location, which give the usual feedback and facilitate operator input.
Ten years ago, a large manufacturing plant in the Midwest was using a DEC VAX 11/750 and a backup as system manager computer, and three DEC PDP 11C23s with a backup as equipment real-time controllers.
Accelr8 Technology has applied ten years of expertise in converting DEC VAX code to Open systems towards solving the issues surrounding the Year 2000.
Our original network was designed almost four years ago to support approximately 40 terminals, two to three DEC VAX systems, and an IBM AS/400.
These include five DEC VAX computers (three primary, two backup) to run the manufacturing operations, AS/RS, and AGV/AEM systems.
The initial contract had designated a Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) VAX 4500 as the center's computing platform; the final specified a top-of-the-line DEC VAX 4700.
It allows users to connect to business applications on a wide range of systems, including IBM mainframe, IBM AS/400, DEC VAX, Micro Focus servers, Hewlett-Packard, and UNIX systems from PC desktops.
The company already had paint lines and milling machines controlled by Allen-Bradley PLCs connected to a DEC VAX computer via an Allen-Bradley Data Highway network.
The system handled such high-speed applications as LAN interconnection, IBM token ring traffic, mainframe access and connections to a DEC VAX system.