[rescue] VAX door key

Carl R. Friend crfriend at rcn.com
Sat Jun 11 19:53:04 CDT 2011

    On Sat, 11 Jun 2011, Robert Darlington wrote:

> I'll post a picture as soon as I can get the key and camera in the same
> place.   Probably Monday after work.

    The pic will be nostalgic.  From my recollection it's little more
than a oval with the DIGITAL logo in the oval, a hex hey protruding
"south" from the oval, and a semi-rectangular opening to the "north"
that one would, presumably, attach to a key-chain.

    In practise, these usually got lost (like the ones to two of the
VAXen at RCS/RI which came from a previous employer of mine) and one
either made due with conventional hex keys or, given the mechanism
involved, mere thumb-pressure on the face of the "nut" on the front
of the door involved.  I was a big fan of the latter tactic as no
tools were needed in getting into the hardware when it screwed up.

    The little plastic "drum" keys were universally left in place as
if one got lost it'd be a royal pain to try to work the mechanism.

    The metal "drum" keys, however, "XX2247", were universal across
all the DEC gear ever constructed starting, I think, with the
straight-8 (I carry one on my personal keychain, and it worked on the
straight-8 at the ex-Boston Computer Museum).  It also works very
nicely in every VAX I've ever encountered, every -11 (save the /05),
and every -8 variant including the LINC-EIGHT in Providence and the
8/I (which likes two) and the 8/e.  (My "carry" DEC key is a brass
replica; my only original lives in the front-panel on my 11/20,
although I may have a vintage spare someplace.)

    For the curious, "XX2065" is the DG equivalent; I carry one of
those on my person as well.  Also "on the ring" is a little one with
the inscription of "CH751" which has gotten me into more computing
gear than one can shake a stick at.

    I suppose eventually I should have a little bit of gold flashed
onto them to keep the corrosion down (chrome is only so good).

    In the immortal words of Harry Harrison's "Stainless Steel Rat",
"Locks only keep honest people out."


| Carl Richard Friend (UNIX Sysadmin)            | West Boylston       |
| Minicomputer Collector / Enthusiast            | Massachusetts, USA  |
| mailto:crfriend at rcn.com                        +---------------------+
| http://users.rcn.com/crfriend/museum           | ICBM: 42:22N 71:47W |

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