Subject: Re: How many Vaxes?
To: None <>
From: Chuck McManis <>
List: port-vax
Date: 02/21/2000 16:34:28
At 11:58 PM 2/21/00 +0000, you wrote:
>... As
>for what to do with it, anyone got any suggestions what a MicroVAX 3800
>can be used for?

"Hello, I've got a computer. What I can I do with it?"

The reasonable answer is "Anything you would like to do with it."

Now the cool thing about these machines are that unlike the PeeCees there 
is documentation available for pretty much anything you might want to do 
with them. I think NetBSD is a good place to learn how to write a UNIX 
device driver, which in turns make other things possible. For example, 
having a computer that is operating an array of lights. Since I am also an 
amateur roboticist I like to think of ways the platform can help my robots 
do their thing.

The older VAXen are not computational speed demons, but they are pretty 
darn good at handling a bunch of I/O. I've got two CXA16's in my 3800 and 
can drive 32 terminals at once with them. This in turn lets you give an 
entire class access to "the computer" at the same time. Basic computer 
science can be learned on any machine and frankly I think learning on a VAX 
is a better start than most. It has a very interesting assembly language, a 
complete set of high level languages available, and a couple of Operating 
Systems available.

When it is "idle" my 3800 has a couple of modems attached to it and can act 
as a dial-in server to the local LAN in the software lab at work.

I've also got a couple of PDP-11's and a couple of PDP-8's each easier to 
understand the next. So a complete soup to nuts computer literacy program 
can be taught with just three architectures.