DEC /dek/ n.
1. v. Verbal (and only rarely
written) shorthand for decrement, i.e. `decrease by one'.
Especially used by assembly programmers, as many assembly languages
dec mnemonic. Antonym: inc. 2. n. Commonly
used abbreviation for Digital Equipment Corporation, later
deprecated by DEC itself in favor of "Digital" and now entirely
obsolete following the buyout by Compaq. Before the killer micro revolution of the late 1980s, hackerdom was closely
symbiotic with DEC's pioneering timesharing machines. The first of
the group of cultures described by this lexicon nucleated around
the PDP-1 (see TMRC). Subsequently, the PDP-6, PDP-10,
PDP-20, PDP-11 and VAX were all foci of large and
important hackerdoms, and DEC machines long dominated the ARPANET
and Internet machine population. DEC was the technological leader
of the minicomputer era (roughly 1967 to 1987), but its failure to
embrace microcomputers and Unix early cost it heavily in profits
and prestige after silicon got cheap. Nevertheless, the
microprocessor design tradition owes a major debt to the PDP-11
instruction set, and every one of the major general-purpose
microcomputer OSs so far (CP/M, MS-DOS, Unix, OS/2, Windows NT) was
either genetically descended from a DEC OS, or incubated on DEC
hardware, or both. Accordingly, DEC was for many years still
regarded with a certain wry affection even among many hackers too
young to have grown up on DEC machines.
DEC reclaimed some of its old reputation among techies in the first half of the 1990s. The success of the Alpha, an innovatively-designed and very high-performance killer micro, helped a lot. So did DEC's newfound receptiveness to Unix and open systems in general. When Compaq acquired DEC at the end of 1998 there was some concern that these gains would be lost along with the DEC nameplate, but the merged company has so far turned out to be culturally dominated by the ex-DEC side.