OpenVMS Resources: VAX + AXP + I64 + VSI

This entire sub-domain is a private effort of free information.
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Note: my OpenVMS Programmer's Corner has moved here

VMS Software Inc. has licensed OpenVMS source code from from HP;
has qualified OpenVMS on 8-core Itanium 9500 (Poulson);
will port OpenVMS to Itanium (Kittson) due to be released by Intel in 2016;
intends to port OpenVMS to x86-64 (yippee!)

NSR Resources on this page

NSR Resources located elsewhere

Hardware Sources

Emulators (currently the only way to get OpenVMS on x86-64)

OpenVMS Software Inc. (recent news)
OpenVMS Seminars (and archives)

HP Links (most and links are dead or redirected)

Online HP Manuals + Documents

DEC founder, Ken OlsenNostalgia

Ancient History

How VMS (OS Software) separated itself from VAX (hardware)

A very brief overview of major highlights:

Prism/Mica/Emerald/GEM (the birth of Alpha and Windows-NT)

In the mid 1980s DEC started the Prism project to develop RISC technology which would eventually succeed their CISC-based VAX. Dave Cutler headed Prism (hardware) as well as Mica (software) which would attempt to port VMS to RISC. In July 1988, DEC killed Prism and Mica so they could build systems based upon RISC chips from MIPS. Dave Cutler resigned the following month in August 1988. In October 1988 Dave Cutler, as well as ~40 of his DEC staff, were hired by Microsoft to incorporate VMS 4.x concepts into a new 32-bit GUI OS which became known as Windows-NT (new technology). This technology later morphed into Windows-2000, Windows-XP, Windows Server Edition 2003, etc.

The remainder of my research has been moved here:

The DEC Alpha CPU (successor to VAX)

Alpha Links

My First Alpha

Our machine looks like this; just a little less full...

Our skunk works has just (99.11.30) been asked to attempt a trial port of some OpenVMS applications from VAX to Alpha. We acquired six AlphaServer 4100 machines (with DUNIX 4.1 installed) from a cancelled project within our company and now one of them is in my lab. We also scooped up two AlphaServer 2100 machines.

This specific machine is an AlphaServer 4100 5/300 which was manufactured in 1996. It contains a single 21164 (EV5) CPU running at 300 MHz with 2 MB of cache and 256 MB of RAM. Five modules can be installed in the CPU chassis (one for the PCI/EISA interconnect and four for CPU's). Because of the clock speed I thought this machine might be a bit of a dog but it "seems" much faster than my VAX-6430 (at least it boots up five times faster).

The disk subsystem is based upon MYLEX configurable RAID controllers which connect to five "storage works" arrays (each filled with six 4-GB SCSI drives). Since all RAID functions are handled in hardware, the CPU can pay more attention to running the OS and apps. The controller can be modified with a configuration program to support RAID-1 (mirroring), RAID-0 (striping), RAID-10 (one plus zero) and RAID-5 (complete multiple disk redundancy).

All the chassis boards (except CPU and memory) are either PCI or EISA based so these machines are considerably less expensive than the VAXs they are about to replace.

Click here for more details

Intel Itanium (successor to DEC Alpha)

Itanium Links

My 1st Itanium

Itanium rx2800-i2
Our skunk works just (2015.06.23) bought a new rx2800-i2 from HP and are having a lot of fun moving our OpenVMS-based production software from Alpha.
Click here for more details

Intel releases Tukwila (February 8, 2010)

Intel releases Poulson (November 8, 2012)

Recommended OpenVMS Books

The Minimum You Need to Know "book series" by Roland Hughes of Logikal Solutions

"The Minimum You Need to Know to Be an OpenVMS Application Developer"

"The Minimum You Need to Know About Java on OpenVMS (Volume-1)"

"The Minimum You Need to Know About Service Oriented Architecture"

Writing VAX/VMS Applications Using Pascal

Writing Real Programs in DCL, Second Edition

DEC is DeadDEC Is Dead, Long Live DEC: The Lasting Legacy of Digital Equipment Corporation (2003, 2004) by Edgar H. Schein

Digital Equipment Corporation achieved sales of over $14 billion, reached the Fortune 50, and was second only to IBM as a computer manufacturer. Though responsible for the invention of speech recognition, the minicomputer, and local area networking, DEC ultimately failed as a business and was sold to Compaq Corporation in 1998. [HP bought, er, merged with, Compaq in 2002]. This fascinating modern Greek tragedy by Ed Schein, a high-level consultant to DEC for 40 years, shows how DEC's unique corporate culture contributed both to its early successes and later to an organizational rigidity that caused its ultimate downfall.

MIT Sloan School of Management Professor Edgar Schein does a marvellous job telling the story of the rise and fall of Digital Equipment Corporation, the former #2 computer maker in the world behind IBM. The business reasons behind DEC's economic failure have been widely reported (missing the advent of the PC, having too many projects going at once, failure to market products effectively, etc.) However, the big question to be answered is why did these failures occur? To quote one passage, "Why did an organization that was wildly successful for thirty-five years, filled with intelligent, articulate powerful engineers and managers, fail to act effectively to deal with problems that were highly visible to everyone, both inside and outside the organization?"

Schein looks at DEC's failure through the lens of its corporate culture, and how it prohibited their executives from making the decisions, and taking the actions necessary to survive. Fans of Ed Schein will know his famous "Three Cultures of Management" paper, in which he describes the "Executive", "Line Manager" and "Engineering" cultures, all of which must exist and be balanced against one another for an organization to survive. Schein argues that DEC was dominated by the engineering culture, which valued innovation and "elegant" design, over profits and operational efficiency. This engineering culture dominated even the top levels of DEC, where proposals to build PCs out of off the shelf parts that were readily available in the marketplace, were shot down because the machines were thought to be junk compared to the ones DEC could build themselves.

That DEC was able to survive for as long as it did was largely attributable to its ability to innovate in a field that was so new it had not yet coalesced around certain standard systems, software and networks. However, as the computer industry became in effect a commodity market, and the buyers began to value price over innovation, DEC found itself increasingly unable, and in fact, unwilling to compete. The engineering culture which valued innovation and required creative freedom, did not want to subject itself to the requirements of being a commodity player which demanded autocratic operational efficiency and control over how resources were allocated.

Although DEC is now long gone, even readers who were too young to use computers at the time of its demise will find familiar truths in this book. As the old saying goes, the fish in the tank does not see the water it is in. Neither do we often see the cultures in which we are ourselves embedded. The real lesson of this wonderful book is to show us how our corporate cultures often prohibit us from doing the right things, even when we can see them clearly. Sometimes culture is most easily visible in the things you need to discuss, but that are simply "not on the table" for discussion.

There are many lessons here too, for companies that seek to innovate new products and services, and how to balance the creative freedom desired by the engineering culture with the "money gene" culture of sound executive management. The names of companies that have failed to realize the full financial benefits of their technical innovations is too long to list here. But the DEC story is a must read for anyone who seeks to balance innovation with sustainable economic success in any organization.

OpenVMS System Management Guide (second edition)

 Rdb: A Comprehensive Guide - Third Edition

 TP Software Development for OpenVMS

OpenVMS Community

Enthusiast Supported

The Death Row Cluster is a publically available OpenVMS platform for OpenVMS aficionados. This cluster is composed of two nodes featuring different technologies: AlphaServer and Itanium.

Professional Associations

Encompass LISTSERV

Function Email Address Subject
Sending a message VMS-SIG@LISTSERV.ENCOMPASSUS.ORG whatever

OpenVMS News Group Info

Note: newsgroups are accessed with a news reader on port 119. Alternatively you may use a browser like so:

OpenVMS Hobbyist

New location for hobbyist licenses:
Old location for hobbyist licenses (not sure if licensing will ever return here):

OpenVMS Freeware, Shareware, and Generally Cool Info

VMS Web Ring (higher quality info and links... be sure to check these sites first...)

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Miscellaneous OpenVMS Links


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Neil Rieck
Kitchener - Waterloo - Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.