DEC Military

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DEC Military
Founder: PDP-1
Leader: TOPS-10
Matriarch: PDP-1; Whirlwind and TX-0 also considered matriarchal
Type of faction: Military family
Main social roles: Informal military of alchemists and sword-wielders
Territory: Mainly towns
Established: Late 1950s
Dissolution: 1998
Predecessor: MIT Society is ancestral
Successor: None



The DEC Faction has its origins in the MIT Society, particularly Whirlwind-tan, her nurse, Memory Test Computer, and their children, SAGE and TX-0-tan. Whirlwind-tan, MTC and TX-0-tan are the ancestors of the PDP-1 line and strongly influenced the rest of the PDP family (as well as the minicomputer class at large), while SAGE-tan played a more tangental role in the origins of DEC. It should be noted that SAGE inadvertently contributed much to the success of the IBM Faction, one of the DEC Faction's major competitors.

The DEC-tans hold their ancestors in high esteem, but the reverence falls short of the sort of near-religious zeal that some factions hold for their ancestors (for instance, the IBM-tans toward GMOS-heika). Whirlwind and TX-0-tan are likely the best-remembered and most-revered, while MTC-tan has been somewhat forgotten by later generations. SAGE is also respected, although perhaps less so due to her generally distant nature and connections to IBM. The quartet - with its scientist, soldier, artist and nurse - is considered by many within the faction to be representative of the exemplary roles for a DEC-tan, and because of this work within the fields of science, medicine and various arts (which includes fine arts, design and "craftsmanship") are considered especially honorable. Guardianship and self-defense is also considered important, as exampled by their later shift to a military-style structure.

It should also be noted that LINC-tan can also be considered "ancestral" to the DEC-tans, as she is a partial-descendant of Whirlwind and one of the first prominent minicomputers. However, she is rarely remembered as such and tends to be treated with a certain amount of mistrust by the DEC-tans, perhaps due to her strong allegiance to MIT (even during her stint working for DEC) and strange magical abilities.


In spite of their military structure, the DEC-tans are, for the most part, a casual and eclectic group. Although there are a number of different bloodlines within the faction (the LINC-PDP-8 line, PDP-1 line, PDP-10 line, etc.) they behave as if they are one family. They possess a strong sense of camaraderie and communality and while the DEC-tans are not without their inter-factional rivalries, displays of anger and in-fighting are highly discouraged and considered harmful to their cohesion. Like any corporate faction, "outdated" OS-tans are retired to make way for new replacements. While this has an understandable tendency to cause friction, the DEC-tans are trained to accept their retirement and view it as just another stage of life instead of the potential end of it. (Indeed, almost all of the DEC-tans have far outlived their working years and now live out comfortable retirements as hobbyist systems.)

While the majority of DEC-tans are involved in serious work to one degree or another, a sense of playfulness and fun is cultivated and many DEC-tans are involved in hobbies unrelated to their work. Diversity of skill is also encouraged and most member boast at least a few professional skills.

During their time as a military, the standard DEC uniform consisted of a red blouse, gray jacket and skirt or pants with red trim, a peaked hat and boots. Others wore the "unofficial" uniform, a red sweater, white blouse and similarly-colored pants or skirt. However, many DEC-tans took advantage of the lax regulations and modified their uniforms to fit their practical or aesthetic needs.



The DEC faction has very informal and humble origins dating back to the late 1950s. Its first OS-tan and founder of the DEC-tan "family" is PDP-1-tan, who was born in 1959. She was Whirlwind's daughter, but her design was heavily influenced by experience gained in the creation of TX-0, to the point where there is some debate over who is more closely related to her (and thus her "mother"). However, questions of this nature should be put in perspective by the inherently-ambiguous nature of OS-tan lineage as well as the fact that PDP-1 herself considered Whirlwind her mother and TX-0 her sister.

Their factional headquarters - and birthplace of and home to the majority of the DEC-tans until the 1980s - was a decaying old wool mill on the banks on the Assabet river. While spacious and comfortable for the most part, it was a shabby place, notorious for its leaky ceilings and drafty windows. Later generations of DEC-tans became somewhat more dispersed, with some spending most of their lives in satellite headquarters in Washington, New Hampshire and elsewhere.

In addition to belonging to the burgeoning DEC Faction, PDP-1 belonged to the MIT Society. She spent much time in Cambridge living with her family, working particularly closely with her sister on various projects.

New Additions

PDP-2 was the next birth in the DEC-tan family, however, she had little contact with her sister as she was quickly whisked off to work for the US government. PDP-4-tan, essentially a modified clone of PDP-1, worked mostly in industry and science and saw little of the glory that her sister did. PDP-5 and -6 (better known by their "debut" names, PDP-8 and -10) were then next additions, followed shortly by PDP-7-tan. These three presided over some of the most important advancements in, and contributions from, DEC-tan culture: PDP-8 essentially codified the minicomputer as a class, PDP-10 was the first DEC mainframe and founder of the venerable Hacker Culture and PDP-7 facilitated the creation of Unix. LINC-tan was recruited into the faction in 1964 and later partnered with PDP-8-tan. In 1969 they had a child of their own, PDP-12-tan. In 1970, PDP-11-tan was born, and eight years later her daughter VAX-tan was created. Little is known of the lives of PDP-9, -14, -15 and -16.

Born in the year 1964, TOPS-10-tan is the first documented OS-tan in the faction. OS/8 and TSS/8 followed in 1966 and 68, respectively, and the PDP-11 OS-tan family was created throughout 1970-71. VMS-tan and her sister, VAXELN, were created in 1978 and 1987, respectively, and Ultrix - the faction's first native Unix - was born 1984.


The IBM and CDC Factions are historic rivals of the DEC Faction. Nonetheless, the DEC and IBM-tans teamed up for a short time in the early 1970s in battle against a group of Midwestern societies led by the CDC-tans.

It can be said that the DECs accidentally created some of their worst enemies. In 1968, PDP-8-tan's creator and a group of coworkers defected from DEC and created the Data General Faction, which would soon become the DEC Faction's self-professed biggest competitor. At this point, the DECs did not yet have formal military experience as PDP-1-tan was a pacifist and raised her descendants to be as well. However, the specter of the DG-tans, with their rapid growth, nonstop saber-rattling and allegedly superior technology, struck fear into the hearts of the DEC-tans and they organized into a defense force.

In 1969, PDP-7-tan was hired by Bell Labs to take part in creating UNIX, who was born in the fall of that year. PDP-7-tan's successor, PDP-11-tan was also hired at Bell Labs, and her intervention led to UNIX's increased popularity and power that would eventually lead to UNIX and her descendants conquering many computer cultures, eventually turning against the native DEC OS-tans and non-Unix-affiliated PDP-tans (most notably, the PDP-10 line).

Due to the collection of various bloodlines and classes in the DEC Faction, there is no one attitude toward the Unices. PDP-7, PDP-11 and VAX-tan were allied with the various Unices and viewed them as beneficial to their culture, while their native OS-tans - RSTS, RSX, RT-11, VMS, among others - viewed them as a threat. The native DEC OS-tans and Unices fought frequently in the late 70's and early 80's, and the short-lived, late-1970s inclusion of Unix-tan herself in the DEC ranks did little to quell the rivalry. In 1984, the DEC Faction was pressured to create a Unix-tan of their own; thus Ultrix-tan was born. The Unix-supporting DEC-tans seemed to have viewed this as a positive turn of events and been motivated to fight the "foreign" Unix-tans with a Unix-tan of their own, while the Unix-opposing DEC-tans viewed this as an embarrassing defeat.


While the DEC Faction was second only to IBM in terms of strength and influence, a number of missteps in the 1980s and 90s ultimately doomed them. In 1978, VAX-tan and VMS-tan debuted. They were considered the "ultimate" DEC-tans, and many other DEC lines were canceled and retired to make way for VAX, weakening the diversity that had been so key to DEC's successes. While VAX and VMS were arguably the strongest and most potentially-influential DEC-tans to live, two things were not taken into account: the fact that the minicomputer race was soon to be displaced by the nimbler and more economical microcomputer race (rendering VAX-tan somewhat trivial) and the fact that VMS-tan would be all but ignored in favor of the more-accessible and familiar Unix-tans.

While the VAX-Unix alliance was wildly successful, VAX-tan's influence continued to be undermined by competitor workstation-tans and the up-and-coming microcomputers, many of whom were forming alliances with the Unices themselves. DEC's made a half-hearted entry into the microcomputer business with Rainbow 100, who proved to have a fatal flaw: a lack of compatibility with MS-DOS (and Microsoft by proxy).

The Unix and OS Wars further weakened the faction. The DECs and Unices alike suffered huge losses in riches and manpower during the 90s, in part due to Windows NT-tan conquering much of the server territory that the Unixes and DECs held. While the Unix Family would recover over the next several years, the DEC Military never did. Their society finally fell into disarray in the late 1990s and was conquered by the Compaq (later, HP) Society in '98.

The DEC-tans who were already retired found themselves without a faction. VMS-tan, who was still supported, found herself in a few different factions post-DEC, settling in the HP faction, with HP-UX-tan as a stepsister. Resentful of losing her culture and everything she worked for, VMS-tan spent a lot of time away from her new home and founded the Confederation of Independent OS-tans, with the hope of reuniting with some of her comrades, and saving other like-minded OS-tans from losing their status to either the Unix Family or Windows Family hegemonies.

Current Whereabouts

In spite of the grim circumstances of their company's collapse, most DEC-tans are alive and doing well for the most part. PDP-1-tan, TOPS-10, OS/8 and RT-11 are affiliated with the Binteeji Renmei and work as a hobby systems. PDP-7-tan and PDP-12-tan are retired and their whereabouts unknown. PDP-10 is a hobby system and rumored to live near a small clutch of vintage computers with PDP-8 and LINC-tan (who are semi-working and retired, respectively). PDP-11-tan is semi-retired and lives with CB Unix, while Rainbow 100, RSTS, Ultrix and VAXELN live as a wanderer. VAX, VMS, RSX and Tenex are affiliated with the CIOST, with VMS still-employed, VAX semi-working and RSX and Tenex hobby systems. DOS-11 and TSS-8 are presumed deceased, and PDP-9, -14, -15 and -16's statuses unknown.

Theories and Notes

See also: