[vcf-midatlantic] Another T-Shirt Rescue (DEC Alpha)

Jameel Akari jakari at bithose.com
Sun Jan 30 00:13:09 UTC 2022

> On Jan 29, 2022, at 11:03 AM, Adam Michlin via vcf-midatlantic <vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:
> Ahh.. the eternal debate "What is vintage?".

A question with a forever-sliding window of time.

> I'll also use this opportunity to address any concerns that I am
> disparaging the Alpha. I still remember my computer architecture

As an Alpha fan, I didn’t read it this way at all.

> professor in 1993 telling us that Intel only had a few years left
> before RISC was going to win the processor wars. My university had

Sounds like my computer hardware & architecture professor, who spent a whole lot of grant money on AlphaServers, which then I got to be paid to play with. :)
He held his nose when we finally arm twisted him into buying some x86 workstations for the lab.

> Just imagine if DEC had added dynamic binary translation (or some
> other technology) to run x86 binaries on Windows NT for Alpha. I can

This definitely happened, it’s called FX!32 and it works better than I thought it would.

> probably could have done it or at the very least done a better job
> evangelizing companies to compile directly to Alpha.

This unfortunately didn’t happen as much, at least for NT.  Though I’ve recently come across a stash of supposedly native NT software I never expected to see.  So for the first time in 23 years I’ll install NT/Alpha and try it out.

> So Alpha wasn't a failure as a product, but it also didn't set the
> world on fire like I think it could have. It has also become somewhat
> of a footnote in history much like my favorite processor ever, Sparc.

For us 90s Unix kids, Alpha was a Big Deal and continued to be impressive right up to when Compaq took over DEC and things got hazy with Intel.  And then HP had its own ideas as it also got in bed with Intel on the Itanium.  (This is a timeline with subtle details I will research for VCF East, and will give me a reason to reach out to a friend I haven’t talked to in a long time.)

VMS customers who remained loyal also had reason to be happy for Alpha, even if DEC didn’t give them a transparently VAX-equivalent floating point representation.

Though you can still buy brand new Sparc machines from Oracle right now, if you were a corporate customer with that kind of money to burn.


> On Sat, Jan 29, 2022 at 10:30 AM Brian Schenkenberger via
> vcf-midatlantic <vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:
>> Jameel Akari via vcf-midatlantic <vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org>
>> writes:
>>>> On Jan 28, 2022, at 4:41 PM, Adam Michlin via vcf-midatlantic =
>>> <vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote: >=20 >=20 > Dean Notarnicola
>>> was nice enough to scan it and Javier Rivera cleaned > it up for
>>> reprinting. Neither Dean, myself, or I (or VCF) receives any > money
>>> from the sale and yeah, we know DEC (now owned, I believe, by > HP)
>>> might copyright strike us so get it while you can. >=20 >
>>> https://www.8bittees.com/product/alpha-two-sided-tee/
>>> Just ordered one.  Thanks for making this possible.  Now I know what to
>>> exhibit and what to wear. :)
>> Are Alpha now *vintage*?

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