Technology Long gone, DEC is still powering the world of computing


Level 26
Thread author
Top Poster
Aug 17, 2017
Even though very few of the early players in technology still exist, we use their creations to this day. Bell Labs created the transistor, and Fairchild Semiconductor created the integrated circuit, but neither company is still around. So is the case with Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). It no longer exists, but unless you're using a handheld device to read this article, you're using a descendant of DEC technology.

DEC was founded in 1957 by Ken Olsen, Harlan Anderson, and H. Edward Roberts to build small digital modules, but the team soon discovered that they could use those modules to build minicomputers—computers that were smaller and less powerful (but cheaper) than mainframes, which were the business standard at the time.

In 1977, DEC introduced the VAX, a new line of minicomputers that featured a 32-bit instruction set architecture and virtual memory. Its operating system, VMS, was a multi-user, multitasking OS that provided features we now take for granted, including virtual memory, file sharing, and networking. It amassed a wide variety of third-party software packages that made it the most popular system in its class.


Level 15
Top Poster
Mar 13, 2022
My first job out of the Army in 1979 was selling Fairchild and Zilog semiconductors. Our company ran a IBM System 34 that had a single terminal with a dedicated operator and you would usually have to wait a couple of days to get a Stock List printed if you wanted one. The changes in the intervening years have been mind blowing.
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