Comment of the Day: kaleberg: Information Technology and the Future of Society: "The Vax mainframe had three big counts against it... http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/08/information-technology-and-the-future-of-society.html?cid=6a00e551f08003883401b8d2a6eba1970c#comment-6a00e551f08003883401b8d2a6eba1970c
...The Vax was incrementally billed, and Americans especially hate this. Even if commuting by bus is cheaper, owning a car means a low marginal cost of transportation. For a few dollars more one has cheap new options for recreation and shopping. People who had compute intensive projects thought nothing of running things on a PC overnight. They didn't need to budget the appropriate Vax time.
The Vax did not provide as pleasant a user experience. There were latency problems which could make word processing, designing and even running a spreadsheet awkward. The system was often crowded and sluggish at times during the day. The Vax did a very poor job with graphics, even if you had a graphics ready terminal. Even at peak performance, the Vax could only drive your terminal so well given UART technology at the time.
Vax software was clunkier and harder to learn. If you wanted to produce a paper, you had to learn a formatting language like roff or scribe. If you just wanted to grovel over a few numbers and produce a simple graph or two to get a sense of things, you had to learn a statistics package. Vax software had a steep learning curve. Yes, it often paid off with more power, but it was a burden, especially when you could just do it with a PC.
The PC model of buying and having full use and control of one's resources was pervasive in the early 1980s. It was Diesel's dream of providing a prime mover for the working man. It was the small electric motor and Otto cycle engine that fulfilled Diesel's dream. If anything, the diesel engine is associated with centralized power...