n. 1. [from Virtual Address eXtension]
The most successful minicomputer design in industry history, possibly excepting its immediate ancestor, the PDP-11. Between its release in 1978 and its eclipse by killer micros after about 1986, the VAX was probably the hacker's favorite machine of them all, esp. after the 1982 release of 4.2 BSD UNIX (see BSD). Esp. noted for its large, assembler-programmer-friendly instruction set -- an asset that became a liability after the RISC revolution.
2. A major brand of vacuum cleaner in Britain. Cited here because its alleged sales pitch, "Nothing sucks like a VAX!" became a sort of battle-cry of RISC partisans. Ironically, the slogan was *not* actually used by the Vax vacuum-cleaner people, but was actually that of a rival brand called Electrolux (as in "Nothing sucks like an..."). It is claimed, however, that DEC actually entered a cross-licensing deal with the vacuum-Vax people that allowed them to market VAX computers in the U.K. in return for not challenging the vacuum cleaner trademark in the U.S.