VAXen and minimal memory (was Re: The PDP11/04 has landed..)

Ethan Dicks ethan.dicks at
Mon Feb 8 22:50:25 CST 2016

On Mon, Feb 8, 2016 at 11:11 PM, william degnan <billdegnan at> wrote:
> I ran my VAX 4000-200 all day today.


> I have never worked with an older

I happened to get a lot of opportunity in the 80s to work with VAXen,
then Alphas in the 90s and a little beyond (I haven't been paid to run
VMS since about 2003).

> VAX.  I run VMS 6.2    Today I booted off the backup drive to keep it
> fresh, DIA5.  I am running MULTINET.

Nice.  We never had Ethernet back in the day - everything was async
lines (and Kermit and BLAST) and sync lines (HASP, 3780 and SNA via
our own products, plus DDCMP on DEC sync serial interfaces and a
point-to-point DECnet network)

> 3 M7622 16MB RAM boards installed.  :-)

I never had more than 8MB on a big VAX or 9MB on a MicroVAX.  I had to
go to Alphas to get that much RAM (and then, boy, did you need it!)
With 8-20 users on 9600 bps terminals, 8MB was a little pinched at
times, but mostly OK.  It kinda hurt first thing in the morning when
everyone was in VMS MAIL and soaking up a bunch of RAM, but unless we
had half our users in MAIL, a quarter of our users in business apps
like Access 20/20 (spreadsheets) or MASS-11 (word processor) _and_
someone kicking off a build with Whitesmith's C, we didn't swap much.
All this power for under $5,000 per user, terminal included, years
before $5,000 would buy you an IBM 5170 PC-AT.


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