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

Mark Wickens mark at
Thu Feb 11 08:56:55 CST 2016

It's good to hear that the VAX was a cost-effective solution - there are
too many stories about how expensive DEC gear was, but I imagine they
primarily came after PCs started dropping in price.

On 9 February 2016 at 04:50, Ethan Dicks <ethan.dicks at> wrote:

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

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