A trip to the Living Computer Museum+Labs in Seattle kicked off an interest in retrocomputing. It led me to a number of like-minded sites and folks. I suppose I miss the simplicity of the command-line only environment of miavx1, the VAX that we timeshared at Miami University.

I've been using a Raspberry Pi Zero W, named squip, as a utility and "jump" server, connecting to it via ssh from various locations. For $10, it gets the job done.

It got me wondering: how does this compare to the old VAX? I found an old manual I had, Introduction ot VAX/VMS, from Miami University Academic Computer Service. It indicated that the system was a VAX 6000-410. I started to pull specifications where I could. Most of what's listed below represents the manufacturer's spec sheet of what it could support, not necessarily what was installed when I was using it in 1991-1992. The details for squip should be fairly accurate.

There are architectual differences that make this a less than apples-to-apples comparision. In addition, I never found any solid benchmark results in common for both systems (or at least a good one for the VAX that I could also run myself). Also, remmeber that squip is baically just me; typically, there were ten to thirty users on miavxi at a given time.

Manufacturer Digital Equipment Corporation Raspberry Pi Foundation
Model 6000-410 Zero W
Year Introduced 1989 2017
Operating System VMS Raspbian GNU/Linux 8.0 (jessie)
Processor(s) Per Specification:
Up to 6 KA64a processors, 35.71 MHz each
Broadcom BCM2835, Single-Core, 1Ghz (1000 Mhz)
Memory Per Specification:
Up to 256 MB
512 MB
Storage Per Specification:
Onboard: up to eight (8) RA90 Disk Drives, 1.2 GB formatted capacity each

Can also access external storage.

Per Specification:
Up to 32 GB Micro SD Card
As Configured:
32 GB Micro SD Card

Can also access external storage.

Diminsions 154cmx78cmx78cm (HxWxD)
341 kg
0.031 kg
Power Supply 1400 watts 5 watts
Cost (estimate) $129,000 (1991)
Based on the "old" cost to upgrade from a 410 to a 510
$233,500 in 2017 dollars
Base unit
$5.52 in 1992 dollars
Photo A VAX 6000 series:
  1. Rasperry Pi.org: Rasperry Pi Zero
  2. Rhode Island Computer Museum: DEC VAX 6000-410
  3. VAX 6000 Platform Service Manual
  4. RA90/RA92 Disk Drive Service Manual
  5. Output of lsb_release -a on 2017-09-17.
  6. Computerworld, May 6, 1996, page 6