This is one of the fastest VAXen for the desktop. It's a genuine graphics workstation, intended to be run under VMS. DEC also started to produce a series of 3D workstations based on the VAX architecture (the VAXstation 8000), but I don't believe they ever saw the light of day. (Enlighten me if you know better!)
The VAX is a 32 bit CISC architecture; it was the successor of the hugely successful PDP11 microcomputer series. (Indeed, VAX is an acronym for `Virtual Address Extension' -- in its earliest incarnation, it was intended as an extension for the PDP11 architecture, because the PDP11 could only handle 4MB of memory.) The VAX features a huge assembly instruction set that allows you (for example) to search character strings in assembler. (It's true! See the VAX instruction set manual for a description of the MATCHC instruction if you don't believe me!)
VAXen run DEC's proprietary VMS os, or BSD Unix. Much of the development of 4.4BSD and earlier versions was carried out on the VAX.
This machine represents the end of line for the VAX, it was one of the last machines to be phased out in 1999. It is not supported by DEC's own version of BSD Unix (Ultrix) and will only run VMS and (starting with release 1.5) NetBSD.
Taking into account that a machine that is running both NetBSD and VMS is something of a split personality, I decided to give the VMS installation a different hostname.
At the moment, kill is running VMS 7.1 with UCX and DECwindows, but not much else. (I've just started coming to terms with VMS.) The frame buffer runs at 1280x1024, 67Hz, 8bit, if I'm not mistaken.