Digital VAX

Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) was founded in 1957 by Ken Olsen and Harlan Anderson. The first products developed were for use in laboratories. The first actual computer was constructed in 1961 and was called the PDP-1. Through the 1960s, DEC produced a number of machines with true success coming from the PDP-8. The PDP-8 was regarded as the first true mini-computer (mid-range) which was to compete against the larger and more expensive mainframe systems. It was 1978 when DEC moved to the 32-bit platform and launched the famous DEC VAX super mini-computer. DEC immediately took a vast majority of the mini-computer market despite valiant attempts by companies such as Data General. DEC enjoyed success with this platform which was able to run either UNIX or VMS - DEC’s proprietary operating system.

By the 1980s DEC had become the second largest computer company in the world and employed over 100,000 people. In the 1990s DEC developed the 64-bit Alpha chip based on a RISC architecture and followed suit with their range of DEC Alpha Servers also capable of running UNIX and VMS, as well as Microsoft’s Windows NT. A move into the UNIX market followed with the introduction of OpenVMS and DEC Unix called OSF1, which was later renamed to Tru64.

During the late 1990’s DEC sold off their Alpha chip business to Intel, sold their database software to Oracle, networking products to Cabletron and finally the entire business to Compaq in January 1998, who were subsequently taken over by Hewlett-Packard in 2002.

DEC’s legacy platforms include:

  • PDP-1, PDP-5, PDP-8, PDP-11, PDP-10, PDP-12, PDP-14
  • DEC System 10, System 20 and System 2020
  • VAX 11/780, VAX 11/750, VAX 11/730, VAX 11/785
  • VAX 8600, VAX 8800, 8978
  • Micro VAX and MicroVax 2, MicroVax 3600
  • VAX 6000, 6300, 6600
  • VAX 9000
  • VAX 7000

Integrating DEC based Applications

DEC computer systems are still very much in use within various industries and laboratories across the world, with the Alpha systems being a key product in Hewlett-Packard’s server offering today. The DEC legacy platforms, as with many mainframe and midrange systems of the day, were never designed to integrate well with other computer systems. In fact, the only interface to the system was that of the user, through the terminal/workstation devices.

Applications residing on DEC legacy systems would have been written to support a specific terminal type, and the transport of information to and from the terminal and the DEC server would utilize what is referred to today as a terminal data stream. This terminal data stream is the only ubiquitous, non-invasive application interface provided by a legacy application. MitemView utilizes this data stream as an application interface. The data stream is known as VT and was pioneered by DEC. There are many variations of this terminal type and they include VT52, VT100, VT102, VT220, VT320 and VT 420.

This means that applications that run on DEC platforms can now be integrated, non-invasively and in real-time, with new applications, whether they are composite applications, packaged or web-based.

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