Case History

Parent Category: Stories Category: VAX 11/750: The Resurrection of a Comet Written by UlliH

VAX-11/750: The Resurrection of a Comet

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How to assemble a VAX-11/750 DIY Kit

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Once I was a VAX/VMS System Manager from VMS V5.0 to V6.2. Everything was fine until my boss decided that all VAXen had to be replaced by PCs. This made me switch my job, but at least I was given two VAXstations 2000 and a MicroVAX II as a present. This was the start of my DEC collection and what was my profession before became my hobby then.

In the beginning my activities concentrated on the MicroVAXen and VAXstations I had and the VMS versions I was used to, but soon I became curious about the history of VAXen and VMS. I began collecting "old" VMS versions, Layered software and manuals. I consider everything before VMS V5.0 as "old" and was lucky to obtain all of the V3 and most of the V4 versions (and meanwhile there is even one V1 and V2 version each available, too). I could run early VMS V4 versions on my MicroVAX II, but nothing older was possible because of missing compatible VAXen. Fortunately that was the time when the simh VAX-11/780 simulator came out, which can handle all VAX/VMS versions right from the start to the very end (V1.0 - V7.3). I had (and still have) a lot of fun with the simulator and it helps a great deal with testing and archiving old software, but the real "look and feel" is missing: Sitting in front of a real VAX and listening to the sound of the disks and blowers whirring ...

So it is obvious I wanted to have a real old VAX - as old as possible, but: not too expensive, not too big and not too power hungry. So my first choice was to get a 11/750, second best choice: a 11/730 or 11/725. I started to keep an eye out for one of these models but nothing happened for a long time. One day noticed a DEC collector in England who had a VAX-11/725 in his collection although he was primarily collecting PDP-11s. I made him a trade offer he could not resist and fetched the 11/725 on a holiday journey to England. While  stowing away the 11/725 in my cars boot the former owner said: " Well, I've got a set of 11/750 boards and a backplane, all in an unknown state. If you want it you can have it. I had something nice for him in return so I returned to Germany with a 11/725 and the first parts for a 11/750 still to come up. The 11/725 is not yet finished but still "under construction", which is another story.