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The Datashed is a miniature data center in the American Southwest, in the spirit of the heterogeneous machine rooms of the 1980s and 1990s. Dedicated to melding old and new technology.

Digital VAXStation 4000 VLC

DEC VAX machines are probably my favorite to collect and use. I love the VAX instruction set, OpenVMS is my favorite enterprise-grade OS, and I love Berkeley UNIX on VAX.

This particular VAX is a VAXstation 4000 VLC (Very Low Cost), introduced in 1991 with a 25MHz KA48 system-on-chip CPU module and 24MB RAM, as well as an NCR SCSI HBA and an RZ26-E hard drive. It was donated to me by a generous member of the retrocomputing community. I paid for naught but shipping charges. This is a really tiny VAX! When it got to me, it worked perfectly running OpenVMS, but had no TCP/IP stack installed. I was determined to upgrade it to OpenVMS 7.3, and sadly, in the process of trying to connect a CD-ROM drive to it, I shorted out the original hard drive’s circuit board against the case metal. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

The machine still worked fine otherwise, and I was even able to make it a satellite node in my VMScluster setup.

I finally decided it was time to get to a serious restoration, as this machine is obviously filthy and extremely yellowed.

Here is a photo after initial scrubbing:

Clean, but still yellowed. Here it is prepped with salon creme for de-yellowing:

While waiting for the casework to de-yellow outside, I worked on the inside of the computer’s case:

Here it is after the initial round of de-yellowing:

And here it is after the second round, the next day:

It needs one short round to clear up some of the streaking on the bottom left corner of the top of the case. This tends to happen with all retr0bright-like processes, but is fortunately quite easily correctable in most cases.

I have a number of DEC SCSI hard drives and an RRD42 CD-ROM drive to connect to this machine, and will post an update once this is complete and functional as the fifth member of my OpenVMS cluster.


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