DEC Design

From: Jerome Fine <>
Date: Sun Sep 2 19:02:19 2001

>Bill Pechter wrote:

> > Jerome Fine replies:
> > Actually, I think the best use for an RX50 drive is what my grandson
> > did one day - took a VERY LARGE SLEDGE HAMMER and ...
> Yup. They really bit and everyone at DEC new it.

Jerome Fine replies:

Actually, at the time I had rescued about 3 dozen from the dumptser
and my grandson was feeling a bit snarky. So I let him at one. I still
have over a dozen (minus the black plastic sled which is all I really
rescued them for). One day the remaining RX50 drives will have to
go unless someone wants to pick them up in Toronto.

> > Other than a CPU, DEC never seemed to manage to make decent
> > hardware the first time around. Even the software had bugs that
> > were really dumb. Of course, compared with M$, DEC software
> > was Platinum compared to Tin (is there anything less than tin?).
> > [But since DEC was bought in 1996?, that is OT]
> Actually, DEC's tape drives were abysmal in design (not counting the
> DECtapes which were really reel-to-reel disk drives.

Do you mean the TU-58? I am looking for one!! I have one that does not
work and I want to replace the bad part. The rollers are OK. This is
the external TU-58 with two drives in a black box. Does anyone have one?
Even if it is not working, perhaps I can cut and paste.

> Their disks had no more bugs than anyone elses and they were just on the
> pricey side.

Think of the RC25!! I know that is not a good example, but...

> The RL0x's were pretty slick and the RK05/6/7's were ok. RM80's needed
> the RA81's 400+meg hda to be competitive... The RA81's would've been
> nice if the breather glue problem didn't occur.

I agree that the RL02 was finally a reasonable drive and not out of line
with DEC standards as far as price.

> The DEC stuff was always pretty good maintenance wise with good diags
> and offline capabilities and testers.

When the drive was basically OK and worked in the first place - the RC25 again.
Yes I agree it was an isolated example. I don't think that even the TK50 was as bad.

> Lots of other manufacturers didn't do as well in this area -- but DEC
> milked the prices a bit too much and spawned a plug-compatible push
> which their Massbus patents killed.

The BIbus was another example.

What DEC seemed to never be able to understand was that co-operation
produced more benefit than attempting to hog all of the market for just
their own benefit. From a close understanding of one VAR in Toronto
who was selling 80% DEC in 1985 and 20% DEC by 1988, DEC shot
themselves in the foot (i.e. Ken Olsen and his VPs) probably without even
realizing it. So when Olsen (was forced?) left, the shell had already
collapsed. And while the PDP-11 and VMS might have rescued DEC
if the marketing had changed, there seemed to be too much inertia to
make the needed changes.

I always had a joke about that:

"What was DEC's marketing policy around 1985?"
Add nothing! - Buy the product elsewhere - add a ZERO to the price
(on the right hand side) and resell it.

"What was DEC's hardware policy around 1985?"
The same - add nothing! Buy a Micropolis 1325 and add that ZERO ohm
resistor so it could be formatted by an RQDX2,3.

I realize these are bad jokes, but the kernel of truth is there. Of course I have
the same joke about Honeywell and their thermostat for my AC. Differences were:
(a) Decal was changed from "HEAT/OFF" to "COOL/OFF/HEAT"
(b) Doubled the price from one function to two
(c) Removed a bolt from the actuator arm to allow the third position to be used.

Also Seagate did the same with their 20/40 MByte disk drives!

So DEC was no more predatory that M$ in many ways, they were just too
stupid to realize that it does not pay in the long run if you don't have enough clout.

Plus, those third party VARs sold a lot of software for DEC until they were cut
off - also stupid!

Sincerely yours,

Jerome Fine
Received on Sun Sep 02 2001 - 19:02:19 BST

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