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Yes. I used a VAX cluster during the 80s and it was my tool of choice on that machine until we obtained Scribe. TeX/LaTeX was also available on it, but I didn't get into it until I bought my first PC in 1988. I remember Nelson Blackman (GTE Government Sytsems) using it for his monthly scientist report.
By the way, I absolutely loved VMS.
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Randy Yates wrote:

I've never used a VAX cluster, but I know a story about one. Since we're totally off topic from an off-topic post, I figure I can digress some more -- right?
I took a multiprocessor class in the late 80's. The class project was to write a program to be benchmarked and run on a single processor, then a multiprocessor system. It was easy the year I did it, because the campus had a brand new Encore computer system with as many National Semi 32-bit micros as you wanted to stuff into it.
At any rate, you write your little puzzle solving program on one processor and benchmark the results. Then you obtain access to a multiprocessor system, tweak your code, and benchmark your results again. In theory, with N processors the final answer should come out in 1/N as much time as with one processor -- right?
The instructor kept two records. At the time that I took the class the best speedup was something like 99.9% of theoretical, with a hand-built two-processor 8086 system with all dual-port RAM. The most slowdown was on a 4-processor VAX cluster, which would solve the puzzle on a single processor in about 40 minutes. When the hapless programmer tried it with all four, the plug got pulled after 24 hours.
It seems that on a VAX cluster any interprocessor communications that overflows the (small) buffer goes to disk...
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It could be a tuning parameter that was mis-tuned. It seems that these DEC systems were very tunable.
I think ours were mainly used for load balancing. It was pretty amazing considering a cluster of 4 vaxes was serving 100+ simultaneous users at times - in ~mid-80s. Try doing that now, even with a 3+ GHz Pentium IV processor.
Shall I also tell about our PDP 11/70s and RSX11-M?
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Randy Yates wrote:

... snip ...

I am not overly impressed. In the same time period we were servicing something in the range of 30 to 40 terminals with a single HP3000, not to mention several i/o processes fed by and to my embedded machines. I must admit most of the users were hooked into a single data base process, and as a rule no more than 4 to 6 were doing program development and other CPU intensive things.
The HP3000 is/was a 16 bit stack oriented machine. Todays Pentia are spending all their time drawing filthy pictures :-) Feed them a decent text oriented OS and reasonable i/o ports, especially ones that don't create an interrupt per character, and they should do very well.
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Randy Yates wrote:

I seem to remember something about setting the buffer length differently and getting significantly faster results -- but that makes the story much less interesting.
That was a good course -- the guy ping-ponged between starting companies and teaching, so his course was solidly grounded in reality. He had _lots_ of stories about wide-eyed technical innocence running smack into hard engineering realities.
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Randy Yates wrote:

Why leave out RT-11?
And since this is far OT -- any TECO fans [that almost came as fanatics] out there. In early 70's I worked in Maynard [ML5-5 to be exact]. Came in one Saturday to finish up a 2 page report using TECO on a KL-10 system that during week handled major portion of DEC's production control. Misplaced a ";" IIRCC thus copying file to itself ;[
Got thrown off system by upper level supervisor program that someone with my permissions should not have even new knew existed. However many scratch disks there were, I attempted to fill them all. A systems expert acquaitence told be I had managed to skip 2-3 levels of protection. Gee, wonder why DEC tried vainly to discourage use of that program -- you could do just about anything in it.
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You should try out that there new-fangled internet-web-search thingy:
http://www.google.com/search?q=NROFF
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at to SCRAMBLE two, and HOLD
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It's a primarily Unix-based typesetting package, older and less sophisticated than LaTeX. Nowadays its probably used most for Unix manual pages, since it's the native format, but I'm sure I'm not alone in still using it for other purposes. It enables you to define your own macros so once you're familar with the system you can be very quick, e.g. I have one macro that starts a letter complete with my address, recipients address (in the correct place for a window envelope - takes experimentation in a word processor) and date automatically. This might not seem special but to get it all I need do is type ".LH" at the beginning of a line. Similarly I have a macro to insert a signature block at the end of the letter - it will even insert my signature if I tell it. After all, I'm far too important to be wasting time signing my own letters. ;-)
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Jerry Avins wrote:

Are you trying to look like a young whippersnapper? Like me, you must remember writing manuals with a pen, and getting a secretary to type them up. I doubt even you did much documentation before the first Xerox copiers appeared in the 1950s, so at least once the secretary was finished life was easier. :-)
Steve
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Steve Underwood wrote:

When I went to RCA institutes in the second and third floors of a building near the corner of W 10th and W 4th Streets. (check it out!), a startup company called Xerox was downstairs. I could have bought a few shares, but I didn't. Some people think I know everything. I know better.
At RCA Labs, where I worked years later, we had a home-built copier with a zinc-oxide based photosensitive roller. It was a demo model that worked quite well. It was the only copier in the building, and there were sometimes lines to use it. RCA decided not to go into that business. They didn't know much either.
Jerry
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Jerry Avins wrote:

Sure, but do you know the original name, before they changed it to Xerox? (Without looking it up?)
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Michael A. Terrell wrote:

Yepp, Haliod (sp?) was located in my hometown. There's stories about poor innocent secretary who muffed the name the day named morphed when CEO called.
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Michael A. Terrell wrote:

They were originally Haloid, a photosensitive-paper company. I thought the name had been a Polaroid me-too wish. According to one of the muck-a-mucks downstairs, they almost renamed themselves "Xeroid" when they got into dry reproduction, but thought better of it. By the time I suggested the palindromic "XereX", it was too late. They wouldn't have listened to ma anyway, so no loss. :-)
Jerry
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Jerry,
I always remember Xerex as being a type of antifreeze.
Clay
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Clay S. Turner wrote:

So it was! For trademark purposes, is Xerex the same as XereX? The 'xer' for "dry" is necessary. Otherwise is could have been xorox. Oh, well!
Jerry
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"Clay S. Turner" wrote:

I think that was Zerex.
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On Tue, 11 Apr 2006 13:01:10 -0400, CBFalconer wrote:

Yes, and a google search on Xerex turns up some marginally interesting links, none of which is antifreeze. ;-) Zerex is, in fact, antifreeze.
Cheers! Rich
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wrote in message

Actually I found quite a few google links to antifreeze with the apparently misspelled Xerex in place of Zerex. Regardless of the spelling the pronuciation is the same and companies likely would not want to have their product confused for another with a similar name.
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Right. Plus, you can do neat things with (La)TeX that you can't do with other systems. One of my favorite things, especially in engineering reports and the like that deal with Matlab, is to have Matlab spit out the LaTeX source code of the results (ala "printf" statments) and then \input it into your document. Ta-da: seamless integration, no typo's.
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Yup. And if you use a Makefile to build the book the same way you build a program, you always know everything is up-to-date.
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