VXT X terminal question

From: Antonio Carlini <arcarlini_at_iee.org>
Date: Fri Jan 17 15:58:01 2003

> Thanks for filling us in on the dirty secret. I thought DEC
> learned their lesson with VS II/RC. (Suddenly everyone needed
> a replacement BA23
> backplane...)

I don't think the VIC slug was much of a secret. They did not shout
it from the rooftops but the specs omit the VIC whereas for
the other stuff it's mentioned reasonably prominently.

The VAXstation II/RC ("Reduced Configuration" IIRC) was
pretty silly really. I have heard that there were firms that
could (or claimed they could) remove the glue and leave
a functioning backplane!

> DEC is still my favourite hardware vendor of all time, but
> this artificial hobbling of hardware is a real black eye for
> them. Think about hobbling the (perfectly standard and
> generic) KA410 SCSI port to only one TK50Z drive, or the
> "strategic decision" to make VS3100 M76 run only VMS and not Ultrix.

The really stupid one was the VAX 8500. This was deliberately
hobbled in the microcode (essentially NOPS were added) to
slow it down compared to the VAX 8700 (the only other
real difference - other than cost! - was that the VAX
8700 could be expanded to a VAX 8800). Once the word got out
they realised their mistake and suddenly everyone who had
a VAX 8500 (on h/w support contract) had a free upgrade to
a newly announced VAX 8530 (i.e. the FS engineer came along with
a diskette to load the new microcode and a new nameplate!).

At least disabling the VIC only *added* to the options - they
could now sell a cheaper variant but the faster variant (in this
case the UV3100-90) existed at the same time.

The KA410 decision was probably not made the way it sounds above.
At that time no VAX supported SCSI and SCSI was seen to be a
pretty unreliable standard (and at the time, I think that
is a fair assessment - it was not the plug and play that it
nearly is today). So advertising it as a generic SCSI port
would probably have been felt to be a dangerous thing to
do from a support perspective.

As for Ultrix never being supported on the VS3100-76: I don't
know how that happened. I don't know whether the Ultrix group
were told not to do it or whether they chose to concentrate
their resources elsewhere.


Antonio Carlini             arcarlini_at_iee.org
Received on Fri Jan 17 2003 - 15:58:01 GMT

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