Looking for a small fast VAX development machine

Maciej W. Rozycki macro at linux-mips.org
Mon Feb 22 09:07:38 CST 2016

On Sun, 21 Feb 2016, Richard Loken wrote:

> I used to do web browsing on a VAXstation 3100 and I stopped because whatever
> version of the browser I could use with VMS 5.5-1 crashed when presented with
> a monochrome monitor.  (That is totally wierd).

 That's not surprising to me at all, because to handle monochrome (1-bit) 
or greyscale (multi-bit) graphics hardware you actually have to explicitly 
code support respectively for a monochrome or greyscale visual in your 
graphics software.  And such hardware is virtually inexistent in the x86 
world which is I suppose what browser developers predominantly if not 
exclusively use.

 I've only ever heard of and saw a single kind of monochrome graphics 
hardware for x86 PCs and that was the Hercules Graphics Card (HGC) and its 
clones, and these were already gone by early to mid 1990s.  They were ISA 
cards compatible with IBM's MDA (and likewise with a parallel port 
included), with a hi-res monochrome (1-bit) graphics mode added.  They had 
a low-res 2-bit greyscale mode as well I'm told, but nobody used that I 

 All the other x86 graphics hardware has been colour, even if used with a 
monochrome monitor.

 Of course sane software would at least quit gracefully rather than crash, 
but given the above I suspect browser developers may not even be aware of 
the existence of monochrome and greyscale graphics hardware and hence 
didn't think anything was supposed to be done about that.  I suspect even 
what X11 calls pseudocolor (a small palette of colours out of a choice of 
many, mapped through a RAMDAC, e.g. 8-bit pixels mapped onto 24-bit 
colours, such as with the Bt459 RAMDAC chip commonly used by DEC) may not 
be supported these days.


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