Liam Proven posted a good summary of the importance of the PDP and VAX series of computers on his blog.
Earlier today, I saw a link on the ClassicCmp.org mailing list to a project to re-implement the DEC VAX CPU on an FPGA. It’s entitled “First new vax in …30 years?”
Someone posted it on Hackernews. One of the comments said, roughly, that they didn’t see the significance and could someone “explain it like I’m a Computer Science undergrad.” This is my attempt to reply…
Um. Now I feel like I’m 106 instead of “just” 53.
OK, so, basically all modern mass-market OSes of any significance derive in some way from 2 historical minicomputer families… and both were from the same company.
PDP-11 was basically the main target platform for the early C and Unix development. In a sense C is a portable assembler targeting an virtual/idealized PDP-11 machine.
It would be more accurate to say all remaining mass market OS’s. After the US used its bulk to beat everyone else up there weren’t many alternatives left standing. I do agree there is ageism in the industry. Most won’t have a clue of where things were at 10 years ago let alone 20-30 years ago or at the time taught what happened even before this . That’s not counting the US thinking it invented everything either. The US thinks the Altair is the bee’s knee’s but the first business computer used commercially by J. Lyons and Co. was the LEO. The LEO I was based on the Cambridge EDSAC. Lyons formed LEO Computers Ltd to market LEO I and its successors. LEO Computers became part of English Electric Company (EELM). Funnily enough this was absorbed by ICL. LEO computers were still in use until 1981.
While DEC is long gone funnily enough the ICL brand still survives in Russia servicing Soviet legacy systems. The Soviets had a thing for Vax but also bought ICL hardware too.
Some of the comments under the blog do recall alternative microcomputers. One comments on the nightmare of transferring data between microcomputers and Vax. I remember that headache. It’s still a bit of a nightmare today with applications being easy with importing data from competitors but very slow to export data. This battle has been seen in recent years with the “cloud” and social media too.