/vaks/ (Virtual Address eXtension) The most successful minicomputer design in industry history, possibly excepting its immediate ancestor, the PDP-11. Between its release in 1978 and its eclipse by killer micros after about 1986, the VAX was probably the hacker's favourite machine, especially after the 1982 release of 4.2BSD Unix. Especially noted for its large, assembly code-programmer-friendly instruction set - an asset that became a liability after the RISC revolution.
VAX is also a British brand of carpet cleaner whose advertising slogan, "Nothing sucks like a VAX!" became a battle-cry of RISC partisans. It is even sometimes claimed that DEC actually entered a licencing deal that allowed them to market VAX computers in the UK in return for not challenging the carpet cleaner trademark in the US.
The slogan originated in the late 1960s as "Nothing sucks like Electrolux", Electrolux AB being a rival Swedish company. It became a classic textbook example of the perils of not knowing the local idiom, which is ironic because, according to the Electrolux press manager in 1996, the double entendre was intentional. VAX copied the slogan in their promotions in 1986-1987, and it surfaced in New Zealand TV ads as recently as 1992!
(01 May 2000)
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