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VAX-11/780 11/750

Manufacturer Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)
Identification,ID VAX-11/750, VAX-11/780, many models
Date of first manufacture.
Number produced -
Estimated price or cost-
location in museum -
donor -

Contents of this page:

DEC VAX-11/780



From "Digital at Work" , Digital Press, copyright 1992, page 66

                Specification - VAX-11/780
First shipped
Word length
    32 bits
    1 VAX MIPS
    4K MOS RAM chips, originally limited
    to 1 megabyte total physical memory
    Original memory cycle time:
    1,200 nanoseconds
Instruction set
    243 different instructions on several
    basic data types: 8-,16-,and 32-bit integers,
    32-and 64-bit floating point,
    packed decimal, and unpacked
    numeric strings up to 31 decimal digits,
    character string (up to 65,535 bytes),
    variable-length bit fields up to
    32 bits aligned on any bit position,
    and queues
    UNIBUS or MASSBUS disks and
    tapes typically, l-2tape drives
    and 2- 6 disks configured
    RP05,RK07,and TE16 most common
    VAX VMS Version 1, intended
    as the all-purpose operating system
    for the VAX family,
    and VAX-DECnetoptional
    layered products
    Enhanced PDP-11 architecture to
    increase virtual address space
    from 16 to 32 bits, doubling
    general registers from 8 to 16
    VAX-11/780s were sold until 1988
    $120,000 -$160,000


Enter the VAX

The VAX changed Digital's approach to architecture and became a standard of comparison for a new breed of superminicomputers. At the same time, the PC industry was launched by the Apple II,which could be hooked up to any color television. The first desktop computer from Tandy laid the groundwork for a global PC market.

WordStar and VisiCalc provided popular word-processing and spreadsheet programs that personal computers could run. In 1981 IBM introduced its first PC. Running MS-DOS as its operating system ensured the future of Microsoft. Soon Lows 101 combined VisiCalc's spread sheet capability with graphics and data retrieval.

DECtalk converted text to speech, and Apple's Macintosh made a success of the mouse as interface, which was developed some years earlier for the short-lived Lisa.

Apollo's first workstation gave engineers and designers enormous computing power at a fraction of the cost of powerful processors. Programs such as PageMaker promoted desktop publishing, compact disks economized optical storage, and precautions were on the rise against computer viruses.

          VAX Family Timeline

1975	Digital's 32-bit system first proposed
1976	VAX program office established
	Starlet (VMS) project begins
1978	Digital's first 32-bit computer, the VAX-11/780
1979	Venus,VAX 8600 project begins
1980	VAX-11/750, the industry's first32-bit
	minicomputer, uses Large Scale Integration
	First use of gate arrays in major system
1981	Gemini/Nautilus (VAXBI) project begins
	VAX-11/782, first dual-processor VAX
1982	VAX-11/730, first single-cabinet VAX
1983	VAXcluster systems, loosely linked
             multiprocessing concept MicroVAX I,
1984	VAX-11/785, most powerful VAX to date
	25,000 VAX computers shipped
	VAX 8600, first new-generation VAX, Digital's
	highest-performance system to date
1985	MicroVAX H, industry's most powerful
	superminicomputer, and VAXstation II extend
	VAX power to single-chip personal-size systems.
	VAX 8650
	VAXstation 500
1986	VAXBI-based systems: 8200, 8300,8800
	VAX 8800, most powerful Digital system
	to date
	Digital's first ECL multiprocessor
	VAXstation II/GPX
	VAX 8500, VAX 8550, VAX 8700

1987	VAX 8978, with up to 50 times the power
	of VAX-11/780
	VAX 8974
	100,000 VAX computers shipped
	MicroVAX 2000
	VAX 8250
	VAX 8350
	VAX 8530
	MicroVAX 3500/3600
	VAXstation 3200/3500
1988	VAX 8840,first4-processor VAX runs
	symmetric multiprocessing (SMP).
	VAX 6200 series: VAX 6210, VAX 6220, VAX 6230,
	VAX 6240-first small system to run SMP.
1989	VAXstation 3100
	MicroVAX 3800/3900
	MicroVAX 3100
	VAX 6000,-200,-300,-400 series
	VAX 9000 series
1990	MicroVAX 3100e
	VAXstation 3100-76
	VAX 4000-300
	VAX 6000,-400 and-500 series
	VAXft Model 310,fault-tolerant VAX
	VAX 9000 series expands by 10 servers
1991	Four new VAXft models extend high availability.
	VAX 4000 triples previous model's performance.
	VAX 6000 Model 600 doubles previous model's
	15,000 VAX 6000 systerns sold.

Special features
  • First DEC processor with Virtual Memory support. Parts of programs or data did not have to be physically present in memory - they could be on disk, and swapped in when necessary. (A reference to a memory address that was not present in memory would generate a hardware "page fault" and the operating system could load the required block of program or data from disk. To make room in memory for this block, a block of memory could be "swapped out" to disk.
  • -

Historical Notes

Keith wrote (February 2004)
Note that this was the machine the Russians seemed to absolutely love to clone. The Russians, until recently, had a great deal of difficulty simply buying US computer equipment. So they would get their hands on a few, and tear them to bits to copy them. As such, DEC embedded a little message, in Russian, about stealing intellectual property. (If you really want the exact text of the message, I should have it buried around here, somewhere. I've seen a photograph of a microscopic view of the lettering, though.)

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Updated August, 2005