Between December 1979 and July 1980, Starlink Vax systems were installed at Cambridge, Manchester, RAL, RGO, ROE, and UCL. Astronomers at other sites used the Starlink facilities via network links. The RAL system had 1.5 Mbytes of main memory and was the smallest of the Vax systems. Discs had grown in size from the 60 Mbytes installed initially with the Prime computers. The DEC Vax systems had 176 Mbyte drives.
Each Vax had two image processing workstations consisting of a VDU, graphics display and a full 24-bit colour image display. Sigma's new ARGS system was chosen as the image display system.
Central procurement ensured competitive tenders and Starlink used equipment from a variety of suppliers to maximize cost-effectiveness. The six VAX 780s were equipped with disks from System Industries and printers from Printronix and Versatec.
Every attempt was made to run with standard DEC software so the operating system was VAX/VMS and the networking was DECNET.
Starlink was the first astronomical data processing system to use networking extensively. The early links ran at 4800 baud.
By this time, ICF had a DECNET network running between the two DEC10s, 9 Prime systems connected by PRIMENET and 9 GEC systems connected with X25 protocols. Gateways from both PRIMENET and DECNET to the X25 network had been installed.