Retrochallenge 2009 Winter Warmup Entry

      This page contains information about my entry to the Retrochallenge 2009 Winter
      Warmup. The retrochallenge competition is held bi-annually and requires entrants
      to spend a month on a project involving retro hardware and/or retro software.
      The term retro describes software or hardware that are more than ten years old.

      The competition main page can be found here[1].

      My entry focusses around a DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORPORATION (DEC) VAXstation
      4000/90. This is a desktop VAX that was originally sold between 1991 and 1993.
      List price at the time for a basic model was in the order of £17,500. My model
      was bought in 2004 for £80. It contains an 72Mhz NVAX processor and 80MB of RAM.
      I will be using it as my only computer in January and will be writing some
      software on it (see the introduction for more details).

      VAXstation 4000/90

      Entrants to the competition are required to keep a diary. The posts below
      contain entries to my diary. If you are interested in my project, please check
      back during the month of January 2009 as I will be making regular updates.

      If you would like to be notified when new diary entries are posted please email
      me at:


          24-DEC-2008 Introduction
                      A gentle introduction to the project including aims and

          27-DEC-2008 Documentation
                      A description of the way in which these HTML pages were created.

          28-DEC-2008 ALLIN1
                      DIGITAL's Integrated Office Applications Suite.

          05-JAN-2009 Remote Control Unit Application
                      Development of the Remote Control Unit application.

          05-JAN-2009 Playlist
                      My retro music playlist.

          07-JAN-2009 Exceptions
                      Problems I've encountered or situations where I've had to
                      fallback to using another box to get a job done.

          08-JAN-2009 Programming 1
                      Getting to grips with OpenVMS-specific programming in the 'C'

          11-JAN-2009 Programming 2
                      Simple SMG$ Hello World! application and command line processing
                      with the CLI$ routines.

          12-JAN-2009 Hardware Issues
                      Temporary keyboard woes and general keyboard chit-chat!

          13-JAN-2009 Performance
                      A real rough-and-ready comparison between performance of the
                      VAXstation 4000/90 and my IBM X60 Thinkpad.

          13-JAN-2009 Applications
                      A gallery of applications that I've been using on the VAXstation
                      during the course of the month.

          15-JAN-2009 Programming 3
                      Hacking TCP/IP examples using QIO calls to read the port status
                      from the Mirrorbow IO controller.

          26-Jan-2009 Recess
                      My belated half-way random rants post-holiday.

          29-Jan-2009 Programming 4
                      Completing the Mirrorbow IO controller application, including
                      the SMG (terminal) interface.

          30-Jan-2009 Conclusions
                      Closing thoughts on this years entry and some ideas for the
                      summer challenge ahead.

      OpenVMS Login Screen


      1. Retrochallenge Home Page