The Legacy of DEC

Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) was a computer manufacturer founded in 1957 and eventually dissolved in 1998.

Oct 6, 2023 - 14:38
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The Legacy of DEC

Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) was a computer manufacturer founded in 1957 and eventually dissolved in 1998. Since then, their name has faded from the public consciousness, but their lasting impact on computing has remained.

In the computer industry of the mid to late 20th century, DEC was an unequalled innovator. They were the first to develop an indigenous microprocessor, and an early adopter of minicomputer technologies. In the 1970s, DEC popularized the use of the terminal, a precursor to the graphical user interface. In the 1980s, they designed and implemented the DC21 DECnet protocol, making strides for personal computing devices to interact with more powerful mainframes.

DEC‘s technologies were pivotal for many aspects of modern computing. The OpenVMS operating system, which was used in many DEC computers, has been adapted and extended by multiple vendors. The basic language of VAX, DEC‘s 32-bit architecture, has been used in many lessons and educational courses. Even today, some DEC computers can still be found in use in some organizations.

DEC‘s technological footprint extended further than computers. In the late 1970s, DEC began to create and manufacture nuclear reactor control systems. Through their subsidiary, Raytheon Nuclear, DEC became a major provider of nuclear power plant control systems. These systems, while dated, continue to provide invaluable safety and operational guidance to nuclear power plants around the world.

DEC‘s legacy continues to influence the computing world today. Their development of minicomputer technology influenced modern architectures. Even the language of the VAX has been adapted, and their computer systems still remain in operation in certain places.