2024-03-27 (Day 087) OpenVMS x86


My first job out of Uni was working as a developer on the OpenVMS operating system, first in Newbury and then in Livingston. It was an amazing job to be doing, and I don’t think I really appreciated it or took maximum benefit from it at the time.

VMS – which became OpenVMS as it tried to compete with Sun and its Open Systems – was a high-end operating system for the kind of computers that would run major commercial institutions. It excelled when multiple computers running OpenVMS were grouped into “clusters”, and these provided reliability that any vendor today would be proud of.

As the industry consolidated, Digital (which owned OpenVMS) was bought by Compaq, and then Compaq was bought by Hewlett-Packard. And Hewlett-Packard decided it didn’t want an outcropping of OpenVMS developers in Scotland, and so they shut us down.

OpenVMS still has its users, and is now run by a company called VMS Software. They have ported OpenVMS to x86. They have also introduced a community licence programme, and after some delay, I was able to get such a licence. I fired up VirtualBox to run it, and I have the basics now in place!

I’m not quite sure what I will do with this. The hardware I’m running it on is massively more powerful than the computers I used back when I worked for DEC. So I think I’m just going to spend some time trying to re-learn some of the stuff I did back in the day. It will be a bit of fun!