VMS stability back in the day (was Re: NuTek Mac comes)

Liam Proven lproven at gmail.com
Fri Jul 15 12:42:39 CDT 2016

On 15 July 2016 at 07:24,  <steven at malikoff.com> wrote:
> As a comp sci student I loved using VMS on our 11/780s at Uni, from first
> year through final year where we also had the use of a Gould PN6080 UNIX mini.
> (Aside - the Gould had one good drive, one flaky. The OS and staff accounts
> were on one, student accounts and /tmp on the other. Guess which :)
> On the teaching VAX, I vaguely recall one time just after the computing
> department had a new version of the OS installed, I logged in and I typed
> '&' (or something) on a line by itself and the DCL shell crashed and went
> back to login. That got patched pretty quick.
> Another humorous thing was certain faculties such as Statistics or Economics
> would hand out (apart from an account for each student) a common account that
> was locked into a DCL menu of for instance stats applications, that had a
> minimal quota and priveleges and anyone in the course could use to check
> terminal availability and print or submit job completions and that sort of
> thing.
> With these accounts it was possible to break out of the menu to the DCL shell,
> and as it was an anonymous account do (from hazy memory) something along the
> lines of EDIT/NOJOURNAL [SYS$SYSTEM]password.dat or something similar,
> and presto although you couldn't edit it or even see it, it would be held open
> and any attempt for anyone to log in anywhere would get some message that the
> password file was locked by another user. I er saw it done by a friend :)
> Apart from that, students would write crazy long DCL scripts that would find
> out whether their friends were logged in somewhere on campus, and that sort
> of thing. No matter that it took ages to execute and used up our meagre
> student account CPU-seconds quota and log us out! So we just logged in again and
> got another few CPU seconds. The messaging command (can't recall what it was -
> phone?) was great and lots of fun to use. Of course geek guys would use it to
> send messages to girls they could see at other terminals, offering to help!
> I recall using EDIT/EDT and really loved it, none of our student terminals
> (Telerays?, Hazeltines, LSI, Wyse, any other cheap beaten-up terminals the Uni
> owned) ever had the mysterious GOLD key though, and it wasn't till decades later I
> saw a real DEC keyboard with that key. I felt disappointed because it was actually
> just yellow and not really gold at all, not even painted.
> Other times I used to edit my comp sci and stats assignments in line mode on the
> DECwriter IIIs and Teletype 43s which most students avoided like the plague,
> preferring to use EDT in full-screen mode on a glass terminal. Being comfortable
> with line mode editing was very convenient for me if I happened to arrive late
> to a terminal room when assignments were nearly due.
> And now I have one of those cute little baby VAXen, the smallest VAX ever
> made, a 4000 VLC from an eBay impulse purchase. I have not powered it up yet
> but someday I will and am hoping it works and has VMS on it. It might even jog a
> few more fond memories (^_^)

Heh. Excellent little nostalgia trip there. My student experiences
were similar. :)

And yes, I too now have a VAXstation 4000vlc. 3 or 4 of 'em in fact.
And I've not tried powering them on yet -- I will do when I get them
over here from London. I just want 1 working one to keep and I'll eBay
the others.

Liam Proven • Profile: http://lproven.livejournal.com/profile
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