VMS — What’s in a Name?

… VMS, by another name, would still be VMS. (Sorry, William.)

VMS has been around for almost 30 years, but there’s still a lot of confusion about its name. Insiders call it “VMS”, but the official product name has changed over time.

  • VAX-11/VMS was the original name of the operating system. The “-11” was in there to link it to the PDP-11, which was DEC’s flagship computer until replaced by VAX. Early VAX systems could even run PDP-11 code.
  • The name changed to VAX/VMS at around V2.0. By that point, the PDP-11 was sufficiently ancient to ignore — although PDP-11’s were sold for many years afterwards.
  • When the VMS operating system was ported to the Alpha platform, VMS-AXP was used. The codebase for VMS was forked to create the Alpha version around V5.0.
  • VMS was was renamed OpenVMS to signify the high degree of support for industry standards. This happened around V6.0, at which time the two platforms were feature-identical again. The code bases were not merged, however.
  • Hewlett-Packard has begun to refer to VMS as “OVMS“. My guess is that they’re trying to reduce confusion with OpenView, a datacenter management product also sold by HP. If you call their support center and say “OpenVMS” instead of “OVMS”, you’ll get routed to the wrong place — even they’re confused!

Just remember, the “Open” is silent.

Thanks to the VMS FAQ for some of this information.

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Welcome to the Quayle Consulting Inc. blog. It’s my plan to develop content here that will be of use to the VMS community, as well as to my customers.

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