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Digital Equipment Corporation, also known as DEC and using the trademark Digital, was a major American company in the computer industry from the 1950s to the 1990s. DEC was a leading vendor of computer systems, including computers, software, and peripherals. Their PDP and successor VAX
VAX
products were the most successful of all minicomputers in terms of sales. DEC was acquired in June 1998 by Compaq, in what was at that time the largest merger in the history of the computer industry. At the time, Compaq
Compaq
was focused on the enterprise market and had recently purchased several other large vendors. DEC was a major player overseas where Compaq
Compaq
had less presence. However, Compaq
Compaq
had little idea what to do with its acquisitions, and soon found itself in financial difficulty of its own. The company subsequently merged with Hewlett-Packard
Hewlett-Packard
(HP) in May 2002. As of 2007[update] some of DEC's product lines were still produced under the HP name.

Contents

1 History 2 Products 3 Research 4 Accomplishments and legacy 5 User organizations 6 Notes 7 References 8 External links

History[edit] Main article: History of Digital Equipment Corporation From 1957 until 1992, DEC's headquarters were located in a former wool mill in Maynard, Massachusetts
Maynard, Massachusetts
(since renamed Clock Tower Place, and now home to many companies). DEC was acquired in June 1998 by Compaq, which subsequently merged with Hewlett-Packard
Hewlett-Packard
(HP) in May 2002. Some parts of DEC, notably the compiler business and the Hudson, Massachusetts facility, were sold to Intel. Initially focusing on the small end of the computer market allowed DEC to grow without its potential competitors making serious efforts to compete with them. Their PDP series of machines became popular in the 1960s, especially the PDP-8, widely considered to be the first successful minicomputer. Looking to simplify and update their line, DEC replaced most of their smaller machines with the PDP-11
PDP-11
in 1970, eventually selling over 600,000 units and cementing DEC's position in the industry. Originally designed as a follow-on to the PDP-11, DEC's VAX-11
VAX-11
series was the first widely used 32-bit
32-bit
minicomputer, sometimes referred to as "superminis". These systems were able to compete in many roles with larger mainframe computers, such as the IBM
IBM
System/370. The VAX
VAX
was a best-seller, with over 400,000 sold, and its sales through the 1980s propelled the company into the second largest computer company in the industry. At its peak, DEC was the second largest employer in Massachusetts, second only to the Massachusetts State Government. The rapid rise of the business microcomputer in the late 1980s, and especially the introduction of powerful 32-bit
32-bit
systems in the 1990s, quickly eroded the value of DEC's systems. DEC's last major attempt to find a space in the rapidly changing market was the DEC Alpha
DEC Alpha
64-bit RISC
RISC
instruction set architecture. DEC initially started work on Alpha as a way to re-implement their VAX
VAX
series, but also employed it in a range of high-performance workstations. Although the Alpha processor family met both of these goals, and, for most of its lifetime, was the fastest processor family on the market, extremely high asking prices[1][better source needed] were outsold by lower priced x86 chips from Intel
Intel
and clones such as AMD. DEC was acquired in June 1998 by Compaq, in what was at that time the largest merger in the history of the computer industry.[2] At the time, Compaq
Compaq
was focused on the enterprise market and had recently purchased several other large vendors. DEC was a major player overseas where Compaq
Compaq
had less presence. However, Compaq
Compaq
had little idea what to do with its acquisitions, and soon found itself in financial difficulty of its own. The company subsequently merged with Hewlett-Packard
Hewlett-Packard
(HP) in May 2002. As of 2007[update] some of DEC's product lines were still produced under the HP name. Products[edit]

DEC VAXstation

Beyond DECsystem-10/20, PDP, VAX
VAX
and Alpha, DEC was well respected for its communication subsystem designs, such as Ethernet, DNA (DIGITAL Network Architecture: predominantly DECnet products), DSA (Digital Storage Architecture: disks/tapes/controllers), and its "dumb terminal" subsystems including VT100
VT100
and DECserver products.[3] Research[edit] DEC's Research Laboratories (or Research Labs, as they were commonly known) conducted DEC's corporate research. Some of them were operated by Compaq
Compaq
and are still operated by Hewlett-Packard. The laboratories were:

Western Research Laboratory (WRL) in Palo Alto, California, US Systems Research Center (SRC) in Palo Alto, California, US Network Systems Laboratory (NSL) in Palo Alto, California, US Cambridge Research Laboratory (CRL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US Paris Research Laboratory (PRL) in Paris, France MetroWest Technology Campus (MTC) in Maynard, Massachusetts, US

Some of the former employees of DEC's Research Labs or DEC's R&D in general include:

Gordon Bell: technical visionary, VP Engineering 1972–83; Microsoft Research Leonard Bosack Henry Burkhardt III: co-founder of Data General
Data General
Corporation and Kendall Square Research Mike Burrows Luca Cardelli Dave Cutler: led RSX-11M
RSX-11M
and VAX/VMS
VAX/VMS
operating systems development; then led Windows NT
Windows NT
development at Microsoft[discuss] Ed deCastro: co-founder of Data General
Data General
Corporation Alan Eustace Jim Gettys: early developer of X Window System[discuss] Henri Gouraud Jim Gray Alan Kotok Leslie Lamport Butler Lampson Louis Monier Isaac Nassi Radia Perlman Marcus Ranum Brian Reid Paul Vixie

Some of the former employees of Digital Equipment Corp who were responsible for developing Alpha and StrongARM:

Daniel W. Dobberpuhl Jim Keller Rich Witek

Some of the work of the Research Labs was published in the Digital Technical Journal,[4] which was in published from 1985 until 1998.[5] Accomplishments and legacy[edit]

This article is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. You can help by converting this article to prose, if appropriate. Editing help is available. (August 2016)

DEC supported the ANSI standards, especially the ASCII
ASCII
character set, which survives in Unicode
Unicode
and the ISO 8859 character set family. DEC's own Multinational Character Set also had a large influence on ISO 8859-1 (Latin-1) and, by extension, Unicode. The first versions of the C language and the Unix
Unix
operating system ran on DEC's PDP series of computers (first on a PDP-7, then the PDP-11's), which were among the first commercially viable minicomputers, although for several years DEC itself did not encourage the use of Unix. DEC produced widely used and influential interactive operating systems, including OS-8, TOPS-10, TOPS-20, RSTS/E, RSX-11, RT-11, and OpenVMS. PDP computers, in particular the PDP-11
PDP-11
model, inspired a generation of programmers and software developers. Some PDP-11
PDP-11
systems more than 25 years old (software and hardware) are still being used to control and monitor factories, transportation systems and nuclear plants. DEC was an early champion of time-sharing systems. The command-line interfaces found in DEC's systems, eventually codified as DCL, would look familiar to any user of modern microcomputer CLIs; those used in earlier systems, such as CTSS, IBM's JCL, or Univac's time-sharing systems, would look utterly alien. Many features of the CP/M
CP/M
and MS-DOS CLI show a recognizable family resemblance to DEC's OSes, including command names such as DIR and HELP and the "name-dot-extension" file naming conventions. VAX
VAX
and Micro VAX
VAX
computers (very widespread in the 1980s) running VMS formed one of the most important proprietary networks, DECnet, which linked business and research facilities. The DECnet protocols formed one of the first peer-to-peer networking standards, with DECnet phase I being released in the mid-1970s. Email, file sharing, and distributed collaborative projects existed within the company long before their value was recognized in the market. DEC, Intel
Intel
and Xerox
Xerox
through their collaboration to create the DIX standard, were champions of Ethernet, but DEC is the company that made Ethernet
Ethernet
commercially successful. Initially, Ethernet-based DECnet and LAT protocols interconnected VAXes with DECserver terminal servers. Starting with the Unibus
Unibus
to Ethernet
Ethernet
adapter, multiple generations of Ethernet
Ethernet
hardware from DEC were the de facto standard. The CI "computer interconnect" adapter was the industry's first network interface controller to use separate transmit and receive "rings". DEC also invented clustering, an operating system technology that treated multiple machines as one logical entity. Clustering permitted sharing of pooled disk and tape storage via the HSC50/70/90 and later series of Hierarchical Storage Controllers (HSC). The HSCs delivered the first hardware RAID 0
RAID 0
and RAID 1
RAID 1
capabilities and the first serial interconnects of multiple storage technologies. This technology was the forerunner to architectures such as Network of Workstations
Workstations
which are used for massively cooperative tasks such as web-searches and drug research. The LA36 and LA120 dot matrix printers became industry standards and may have hastened the demise of the Teletype Corporation. The VT100
VT100
computer terminal became the industry standard, implementing a useful subset of the ANSI X3.64 standard, and even today terminal emulators such as HyperTerminal, PuTTY
PuTTY
and Xterm
Xterm
still emulate a VT100 (or its more capable successor, the VT220). The X Window System, the network transparent window system used on Unix
Unix
and Linux, and also available on other operating systems, was developed at MIT jointly between Project Athena
Project Athena
and the Laboratory for Computer Science. DEC was the primary sponsor for this project, which was a contemporary of the GNU Project
GNU Project
but not associated with it. In the period 1994–99 Linus Torvalds
Linus Torvalds
developed versions of Linux
Linux
on early AlphaServer
AlphaServer
systems made available to him by the engineering department.[disputed – discuss] Compaq
Compaq
software engineers developed special Linux
Linux
kernel modules.[6] A well-known Linux
Linux
distribution that ran on AlphaServer
AlphaServer
systems was Red Hat
Red Hat
7.2.[7] Another distribution that ran on Alpha was Gentoo Linux. Notes-11 and its follow-on product, VAX
VAX
Notes, were two of the first examples of online collaboration software, a category that has become to be known as groupware. Len Kawell, one of the original Notes-11 developers later joined Lotus Development Corporation
Lotus Development Corporation
and contributed to their Lotus Notes
Lotus Notes
product. DEC was one of the first businesses connected to the Internet, with dec.com, registered in 1985,[8] being one of the first of the now ubiquitous .com domains. DEC's gatekeeper.dec.com was a well-known software repository during the pre-World Wide Web days, and DEC was also the first computer vendor to open a public website, on 1 October 1993.[9] The popular AltaVista, created by DEC, was one of the first comprehensive Internet search engines. (Although Lycos
Lycos
was earlier, it was much more limited.) DEC invented Digital Linear Tape
Digital Linear Tape
(DLT), formerly known as CompacTape, which began as a compact backup medium for Micro VAX
VAX
systems, and later grew to capacities of 800 gigabytes. Work on the first hard-disk-based MP3-player, the Personal Jukebox, started at the DEC Systems Research Center. (The project was started about a month before the merger into Compaq
Compaq
was completed.) DEC's Western Research Lab created the Itsy Pocket Computer. This was developed into the Compaq
Compaq
iPaq line of PDAs, which replaced the Compaq Aero PDA. Digital Federal Credit Union
Digital Federal Credit Union
(DCU) is a credit union which was chartered in 1979 for employees of DEC. Today its field of membership is open to existing family members, over 900 different sponsors, several communities in Massachusetts and several organizations. DCU has over 700 different sponsors, including the companies that acquired pieces of DEC. DEC once held the Class A IP address
IP address
block 16.0.0.0/8.[10] User organizations[edit] Originally the users' group was called DECUS
DECUS
(Digital Equipment Computer User Society) during the 1960s to 1990s. When Compaq
Compaq
acquired DEC in 1998, the users group was renamed CUO, the Compaq
Compaq
Users' Organisation. When HP acquired Compaq
Compaq
in 2002, CUO became HP-Interex, although there are still DECUS
DECUS
groups in several countries. In the United States, the organization is represented by the Encompass organization; currently Connect. Notes[edit]

^ Alpha: The History in Facts and Comments - The Collapse of DEC. Alasir.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-17. ^ Schultz, Randy. " Compaq
Compaq
to buy DEC". CNN Money. Retrieved 19 June 2017.  ^ For in-depth articles regarding DEC technologies, refer to the archived Digital Technical Journal ^ Digital Technical Journal – Online Issues ^ At least some of the research reports are available online at ftp.digital.com, in the subdirectories WRL, SRC, NSL, CRL, PRL (see Research section). Verified July 2006 ^ Compaq
Compaq
was actively participating during the period 1994–99 into the Linux
Linux
development, verified July 2014 ^ Red Hat
Red Hat
and Compaq
Compaq
Announce Port of Red Hat
Red Hat
Linux
Linux
7.2 to Compaq's Alpha Processors (8 January 2002), verified July 2014 ^ dec.com ^ DECTEI-L Archives – February 1994 (#2) ^ List of assigned /8 IPv4 address blocks

References[edit]

(Present), "Digital Equipment Corporation: Nineteen Fifty-Seven to the Present", DEC Press, 1978 David Donald Miller (1997). Open Vms Operating System Concepts. Elsevier. ISBN 978-1-55558-157-2.  Alan R. Earls (2004-06-30). Digital Equipment Corporation. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-3587-6.  Edgar H Schein; with P. DeLisi; P. Kampas; M. Sonduck (2003-07-01). DEC is dead, long live DEC. Berrett-Koehler Pub. ISBN 978-1-57675-225-8.  Jamie Parker Pearson (September 1992). Digital at work: snapshots from the first thirty-five years. Digital Press. ISBN 1-55558-092-0.  Glenn & George Harrar Rifkin; George Harrar (1988). The Ultimate Entrepreneur: The Story of Ken Olsen and Digital Equipment Corporation. McGraw-Hill/Contemporary. ISBN 978-0-8092-4559-8.  C. Gordon Bell; J. Craig Mudge; John E. McNamara; Digital Equipment Corporation (1978). Computer engineering: A DEC view of hardware systems design. ISBN 0-932376-00-2. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Digital Equipment Corporation.

GBell's CyberMuseum for Digital Equipment Corp (DEC) Rise and Fall of Digital (Equipment Corporation), a company chronicle at a German computer museum Ken Olsen, New England Economic Adventure Works by Digital Equipment Corporation
Digital Equipment Corporation
at Project Gutenberg Works by or about Digital Equipment Corporation
Digital Equipment Corporation
at Internet Archive

v t e

Digital Equipment Corporation
Digital Equipment Corporation
computers

PDP

18-bit

PDP-1 PDP-4 PDP-7 PDP-9 PDP-15

12-bit

LINC PDP-5 PDP-8 PDP-12 LINC-8 DECmate PDP-14 PLC

36-bit

PDP-6 PDP-10 DECSYSTEM-20

16-bit

PDP-11 DEC Professional

VAX

VAX-11 MicroVAX VAX
VAX
8000 VAXstation Firefly VAXserver VAX
VAX
6000 VAX
VAX
4000 VAX
VAX
9000 VAXft VAX
VAX
7000/10000

x86

Rainbow 100 VAXmate DECstation Multia Digital Personal Workstation

MIPS

DECstation DECsystem
DECsystem
(see "36-bit" for DECSYSTEM-20
DECSYSTEM-20
and the PDP-10/DECsystem-10))

Alpha

DEC 3000 AXP DEC 4000 AXP DEC 7000/10000 AXP DECpc AXP 150 DEC 2000 AXP Multia AlphaServer AlphaStation Digital Personal Workstation

v t e

Digital Equipment Corporation
Digital Equipment Corporation
video terminals

VT05
VT05
(1970) VT50/ VT52
VT52
(1975) VT55 VT62 VT100
VT100
(1978) VT101 VT102 VT103 VT105 VT110 VT125 VT131 VT132 VT180 VT220
VT220
(1983) VT240 VT241 VT320
VT320
(1987) VT330 VT340 VT340+ VT420
VT420
(1990) VT510 (1993) VT520 (1994) VT525 VT LAN40

v t e

Hard disk drive
Hard disk drive
manufacturers

History of hard disk drives

Present

Seagate Technology Toshiba Western Digital

HGST

Past

Computer Memories Inc. Conner Peripherals Control Data Corporation Digital Equipment Corporation ExcelStor Technology Fujitsu Hewlett-Packard IBM Iomega JT Storage JVC Kalok Kyocera Maxtor Memorex Micropolis MiniScribe Mitsubishi Electric NEC Plus Development PrairieTek Priam Corporation Quantum Rodime Samsung Electronics Sony Storage Technology Corporation Syquest

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