Digital Equipment Corporation
VAXstation 2000

[JPEG image of VAXstation 2000]

    Introduced in 1987 under the code name "VAXstar", the diminutive VAXstation 2000, using the newly released MicroVAX-II chipset, executed virtually the entire VAX instruction set save the "compatibility mode" instructions that allowed earlier VAXen to emulate (in hardware; microcode, actually as every member of the VAX family is a microcode machine) the PDP-11.

    The entire VAX line is a direct descendant of the venerable PDP-11 line of computers, of which I have several examples in my collection. In fact, the earliest VAX went by the name of "PDP-11/780". Other members of the 11/7xx series include the VAX-11/750 and VAX-11/730.

    The Retro- Computing Society of Rhode Island maintains an operational VAX-11/750 as its master node.

    The PDP-11/780 established DEC's proprietary performance measurement, the "VUP" or "VAX Units of Performance". The 11/780, as the "reference machine", rated a one. The VAXstation 2000, by way of comparison, tools along at a respectable 0.9 VUP. The VUP is non- comparable to other forms of performance measurement, and as such has been called by various wags the "Virtually Useless Performance statistic".

    As with everything else, things got smaller with the passage of time. The 11/780 was a large beast housed in a cabinet about six feet wide, three feet deep, and five feet high with no attached peripherals; the VAXstation 2000 rings in at 12.5" (w) x 5.5" (h) x 11.5" (d) including the internal RD-54 disk drive and six Mb of mainstore. It weighs approximately 25 pounds. I fondly refer to my example as "the Brick".

    The VS2000 was designed from the outset to be a graphics-enabled device, and as such has a built-in graphics adaptor for connection to a large (the original screen with this one was a 19") monitor. The software that drives this device is VWS (VAX Work Station) running atop MicroVMS. It is capable of booting into a Local Area VAXcluster (LAVC), and when operating in that manner runs the DECwindows suite instead of the VWS interface.

    It is also possible to run the VAXstar in a non-graphic arrangement, and that is the way my 2000 is usually operated. The changeover is accomplished with a special cable , which I constructed myself.

    Several variants of machines were marketed with the same chipset as the VS2000, including ones designed for non-graphic applications; these include the generic MicroVAX-II processor. All are based around the MicroVAX-II chips.

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