ConVX v15-78 initalization

Boot screen and update search in ConVX v.15.78. The user's name has been blacked out for privacy.

(pronounced "convex", short for Control VX) is an operating system specifically designed for use with computing systems integrated into VX setups. First released in 1985 and wholly written by husband and wife James and Erin Parker, ConVX has gained a devoted database and a number of contributors. Version 3.6 was released in 1991 under the BSD; version 8.77, released in 2001, was published under the Revised BSD, as have all subsequent versions. As of 6 November 2013, the latest stable release of ConVX is version 15.78.


James Parker and Erin Baxter were freshmen at the University of Berkeley in 1982. Both were amateur VX enthusiasts and spent many hours tinkering with the resident VX3 unit, nicknamed "The Khan". At the time the majority of readout equipment was analog and consumed a considerable amount of space. In the fall of 1983, Parker and Baxter began working on a program to digitally record activity in the VX unit and output it to 5.25" floppy diskette.

The initial purpose of what was to become ConVX was simply a recording program to deliver the results of VX cycles. However, in the spring of 1984, Baxter was struck by a car while riding her bicycle. While she came out of her coma in several days, she had broken both of her legs and one of her arms. Parker wanted her to be able to continue to use the Khan in his absence, as he was planning on partaking in a research program over the summer in Colorado. Therefore, he soldered together an improvised master control register and retooled the code so that computer control and manipulation of the unit was possible—hence the name Control VX. Baxter used Control VX to experiment during her recovery and undertook some modification of the code herself.

Initial ReleaseEdit

In the fall of 1984 a sophomore transfer student from Montana, Dallas Ludlow, became acquainted with Baxter and Parker. While he did not contribute any code to the project himself, he was impressed with the ability of ConVX to control and record the system. He urged the duo to release ConVX to a wider audience. After much debate, Parker made a post in the Usenet group comp.vx.enthusiasts formally announcing the release of ConVX v.1.0. Early versions of the system were recorded onto floppy diskettes and sent in the mail to those interested.

The thread generated a flurry of discussion. Over the following months a considerable amount of feedback was posted to the topic. Some of the most-requested additions involved diagnostics and calibration, which were addressed in v.2.0, released in August 1986.

The Switch to BSDEdit

A growing cadre of users, coupled with the adoption of faster modems, influenced the massive growth in size of the OS. The Parkers, who had married in 1985, had become overwhelmed with maintaining the code. In 1991 Sergei Ivanovich made a famous post in comp.vx.enthusiasts suggesting that the code could be "better served by common consensus". Version 3.6 was subsequently released under the BSD, the code contributed by multiple authors under the auspices of what the Parkers termed "the ConVX Group".

After the switch to BSD (and the relicensing of the code to the Revised BSD starting with v.8.77 in the fall of 2001), many VX enthusiasts wrote their own modules and contributions to the code. The most popular and useful were oftentimes incorporated into the code of the system itself.