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

Jon Elson elson at
Thu Feb 11 20:14:51 CST 2016

On 02/11/2016 10:56 AM, Jerome H. Fine wrote:
> >Jon Elson wrote:
>> >On 02/11/2016 08:56 AM, Mark Wickens 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.
>> We paid somewhere between 200 and 250K for our first 
>> 11/780.  We had an RM05 and a TU77, and 256 KB of 
>> memory.  It was a pretty basic system, but ran rings 
>> around the campus 360/65 system.  We also had a pair of 
>> 370/145's that were an expensive joke.  (The 360/65 ran 
>> rings around BOTH of them.  They ran time sharing on 
>> them, limited to 4 users/machine.  We often had 8+ users 
>> plus batch jobs running on our 780.) 
> Any idea about the date of when VMS could do that with a VAX?
Well, the first VAX VMS should have been quite capable of 
doing good timesharing.  We may have had VMS 3.0 or 3.1 and 
then a number of updates.  I did not keep real good records, 
but I think we got the machine about 1980.  There was an 
earlier 11/780 at our Med School that also had a bunch of 
terminals on it.  I'm pretty sure they had more disks and 
memory on it than ours.  They got theirs in 1979, I think.  
The VAX was first announced in late 1977.
> I don't remember how expensive a Cyber 3300 was back in 
> 1967, but I
> worked at Northern Electric in Ottawa at the time.
OK, well, now that was a whole DECADE before the VAX.  The 
3300 was a discrete transistor machine, more than a full 
generation earlier than the VAX.
> The reason for this reply is to document that there were 
> already such
> systems available with very innovative software solutions 
> as far back
> as the 1970s.
Certainly, DEC had the PDP-10 and other companies had quite 
good timesharing systems.  I'm certainly not implying that 
nobody did timesharing before the VAX.  What I was 
contrasting is how expensive IBM 360's were, and how poorly 
they did at timesharing, than our VAX system.


More information about the cctalk mailing list