Also found in: Dictionary, Acronyms, Idioms, Wikipedia.


/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 ?
The Harris Broadcast Maxiva VAX is the world's most popular and innovative VHF Band III transmitter for DAB and DAB+ radio, and is also used in analogue and digital television applications, with PowerSmart solid-state architecture that delivers market-leading power density and operational efficiency.
To generate labels, data is key entered on shop floor terminals and networked to the VAX serving each location.
If they need access, they can simply dial up the VAX by modem and download whatever records they need.
Most of the OpenVMS kernel is in VAX assembly language (VAX MACRO-32).
The information for Global Report, which is now a service of Quotron, flows into the VAX computers at Quotron's information center in Parsippany, N.
It lets users access both the text and graphics capabilities of software running on DEC VAX and PDP computers.
VAX marketing manager Chris Tullett said: "One mum said her two student sons only knew where the vacuum was because they had to reach over it to the crisp store.
Far from being locked into the DEC VAX platform, for example, MedTech "could switch to another box tomorrow and we'd never need to know," he says.
In October 1977, Digital Equipment Corporation introduced the VAX architecture with one hardware product (the VAX 11/780), one operating system (VAX VMS), one network (DECnet), and one language (Fortran).
CRAY BLITZ's initial problems stemmed from four lines that program developer Robert Hyatt, a graduate student at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, had inserted after testing some parts of his program on a VAX minicomputer and finding an apparent weakness in the way the computer evaluated pawn movements.
uk using the word VAX as your subject line, please include your address and a contact phone number.