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From: CL...@CMSA.BERKELEY.EDU (Cliff Frost {510} 642-5360)
Subject: Network News: The passing of ucbvax
Message-ID: <>
Date: 23 Aug 94 20:58:00 GMT
Sender: usenet
Distribution: ucb
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Friday, Aug 19, 1994, at approximately 2PM, Berkeley Time, a group of
programmers gathered in the old CS department computer room,
fourth floor of Evans Hall, amongst the scattered remains of network
wiring, ancient hardware, ghosts of legends, and general debris, for
a mysterious and moving ceremony; a rite of passage for a computer,
and perhaps its human caretakers.  A semiologist could write a thesis
on this event, but here we confine ourselves to the facts.

What actually happened on Friday is that Keith Sklower and Eric Allman
halted the computer that had carried the name of ""
for the last several years of that venerable name's history.  Then
Kirk McKusick turned the power off, an honor due him as he was the
first person to turn the power on to that particular piece of hardware.

Shortly before this, Keith gave a brief history of ucbvax, and
told us that although the machine was retiring, it would be following
recent local tradition by immediately coming back to work in another
capacity--as a card-key access system controller for the UC Police
department.  (See below for Keith's history.)

Keith's eulogy was followed by Eric Allman's moving tribute:

        Alas, poor Ucbvax!  I knew him, Horatio.  A machine of infinite
        jest, of most excellent software.  He hath borne my mail in his
        queue a thousand times.  And now how abhorred in my imagination it
        is!  My gorge rises at it.  Here hung those disks that have spun
        I know not how oft.  Where be your news now?  your dialins?  your
        routes?  your flashes of congestion that were wont to set the
        department on a roar?

The assembled multitude of T-shirted and blue-jeaned programmers
(more than a few of us also sporting just a touch of silver in the
hair) applauded enthousiastically, then dug into the carrot cake
and diet pepsi generously provided by Keith.

     Cliff Frost
     Network Services

ps  Keith's brief history:

    In the summer of 1978, the computer science department took delivery of
    the campus' first Digital Equipment VAX computer, obtained via a grant
    from NSF (due in large part to the efforts of Prof. Richard Fateman).
    In fairly short order, it was running a variant of UNIX developed by
    Bell Labs.  (Local CS people were interested in adding virtual memory
    support, which ATT UNIX lacked, which eventually led to the widespread
    interest in BSD, but that's a different story).

    The people at Bell Labs offered to have their computer call up ours
    in order to facilitate research collaborations, using the UUCP protocol.
    We had to choose a node name, and "ucbvax" seemed to follow their naming
    conventions.  Netnews and the birth of usenet followed closely.

    After a couple or 3 years, the mail-handling and news functions of
    the departmental vax were chewing up more than half the cycles, so
    it was decided to segregate those functions onto a separate machine
    (when the opportunity arose).  So, "ucbvax" became VAX/750
    devoted specifically to those functions.  For a long time, it was
    one of two gateways between the ARPANET and the Berkeley Campus.

    After the load on ucbvax-the-750 began to exhaust it's capacity,
    there was talk of replacing it with some flavor of SUN workstation,
    but a DEC sales person got wind of this and thought it would be
    much better for DEC if ucbvax were to stay a vax, and managed to
    "upgrade" the 750 to a decstation 3200, which was its final incarnation.

    At the time it was turned off, ucbvax was the last operational vax
    in the computer science department, so to stretch the truth only a little,
    it was both the first and last VAX in the computer science department
    at UC Berkeley.

pps The actual power-down was delayed by about 20 minutes from the
    scheduled 2PM time, because of having to move about 74 pieces
    of queued email to another machine for eventual processing.

ppps Although ucbvax's IP addresses are retired, there is still a significant
    amount of email traffic being supported under that name, rerouted earlier
    in the day (through the magic of MX records) to a machine supported by
    Information Systems and Technology's department of Data Communication
    and Network Services.  This computer is named, with full cognizance of
    the irony, "".

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