Dig my grave both long and narrow
Make my coffin neat and strong
(from an old American song)
This work starts a series of articles, dedicated to Alpha processors and the architecture, as well as to other related questions. We decided to make it a series of articles, because presenting the whole material available in a single overview would be somewhat problematic and generally inadequate, from the author's point of view.
Besides, the topic we are about to discuss is pretty overwhelming, fundamental in many aspects, and there are not so many other materials available right now that would discuss in detail the entire architecture and not just separate products distanced largely in time.
Maybe this article could look better if written and published several years ago, when Alpha processors were considered real kings from the performance prospective, and their future was expected to be truly bright. But, only nowadays it seems to be the right time to draw the final line, to explain what happened, and why one of the most interesting and promising computer architectures has been thrown into oblivion.
Generally, this article is a historical overview with some elements of analysis, so it should be considered as such. We do not insist that it should be taken as universal, even though it contains a lot of reference information. On the other hand, it isn't an obituary notice or a funeral prayer, definitely...