V.E.R.A. -- Virtual Entity of Relevant Acronyms (September 2014):
Virtual Address eXtension (DEC, VAX)
The Jargon File (version 4.4.7, 29 Dec 2003):
1. [from 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 favorite machine of them all,
esp. after the 1982 release of 4.2 BSD Unix (see BSD). Especially noted
for its large, assembler-programmer-friendly instruction set ? an asset
that became a liability after the RISC revolution.
It is worth noting that the standard plural of VAX was ?vaxen? and that VAX
system operators were sometimes referred to as ?vaxherds?
2. A major brand of vacuum cleaner in Britain. Cited here because its sales
pitch, ?Nothing sucks like a VAX!? became a sort of battle-cry of RISC
partisans. It is even sometimes claimed that DEC actually entered a
cross-licensing deal with the vacuum-Vax people that allowed them to market
VAX computers in the U.K. in return for not challenging the vacuum cleaner
trademark in the U.S.
A rival brand actually pioneered the slogan: its original form was ?Nothing
sucks like Electrolux?. It has apparently become a classic example (used in
advertising textbooks) of the perils of not knowing the local idiom. But in
1996, the press manager of Electrolux AB, while confirming that the company
used this slogan in the late 1960s, also tells us that their marketing
people were fully aware of the possible double entendre and intended it to
And gain attention it did ? the VAX-vacuum-cleaner people thought the
slogan a sufficiently good idea to copy it. Several British hackers report
that VAX's promotions used it in 1986--1987, and we have one report from a
New Zealander that the infamous slogan surfaced there in TV ads for the
product in 1992.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (18 March 2015):
/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
(http://vax.co.uk/) 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