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

Sue Skonetski Sue.Skonetski at
Thu Feb 11 11:21:15 CST 2016

Just thinking about Mark’s email here. Keeping in mind that this is from a DEC persons point of view.  You probably all know and appreciate this.  While the DEC hardware may have been more expensive than other companies many customers are still running the hardware today.  I am thinking of several customers that are still running PDP11’s in a production environment.  I am also thinking of VMS customers that have been up an running for 33 solid years.  This is almost inconceivable with current hardware and software.
When I worked with Nemonix we had customers needed replacement parts for the majority of the server hardware that DEC made.  This was on the server side not necessarily the Network products like the Gigaswitch or hubs.

Just my 2 cents,
Have a great day,

> On Feb 11, 2016, at 9:56 AM, Mark Wickens <mark at> wrote:
> 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

Sue Skonetski

VP of Customer Advocacy
Sue.Skonetski at
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