"The Alphas might have been power hungry heat pumping beats"
In their day, yes, though in their day they were designed for fanless heat sinks because fans were considered too unreliable.
These days, routine desktop and server chips use almost as much power as the early Alphas and folks are perfectly happy to rely on fansinks (150W max for Alpha 21064, 130W for current x86).
"clean, fast, and just all around awesome."
That they were. Not just in the nice clean architecture and instruction set, but some of the system design features such as integrated memory controllers and a high speed bus for glueless SMP etc. Even Intel eventually caught on to those ideas, once they realised that IA64 was on the road to nowhere.
@Steve Davies re CSS
You and I will have to disagree about the importance and significance of CSS. Important, yes. Positive contributor? Far from clear.
In my experience initially as a customer and later as a DEC employee (though not in CSS), CSS entirely deserved their popular nickname of Cowboy Special Systems. Some of the products (such as the Compact VAX) did indeed address an interesting and valuable niche, but mostly CSS in the field seemed to be about being creative with DEC internal accounting so that two sales teams (CSS and the customer's own account team) rather than one could get credit for the same sales.
"All sorts of A-to-D & D-to-A plus digital I/O stuff."
DEC sold some handy stuff much of which was rebadged Data Translation cards (at least on the Qbus kit I used). Nothing necessarily wrong with that except unlucky DEC field service engineers typically didn't have a clue about "calibrating an A-to-D". Understandable but unfortunate.
"Including a programmable clock"
KWV11 was the Qbus version. Was it another Data Translation card? I can't remember.
National Instruments have long since taken over that test and measurement computer market. Their prices in comparison with the alternatives make DEC vs its alternatives back then look quite affordable; how on earth do NI manage to do that and stay in business (other than by lots and lots of advertising and marketing, eg Processor Brian Cox as keynote speaker at their most recent UK user group )?
And then there was the CSS Qbus graphics boards. Even in the days when workstations were taking off (after even DEC field management realised workstations were going places), there were CSS folks trying to extend the outdated VSVxx line. Madness.
In the former Reading HQ (now demolished), not far from CSS, but a whole lot smaller and more productive, lived DECdirect UK. In the early 1990s their performance in terms of product awareness, demand creation, sales support and product delivery put most of the official box-shifters er sorry "channel partners" to shame, which is why DECdirect UK had to be abolished. DECdirect UK even produced useful glossy but not content free catalogues (later for UK+Europe), with information and prices for most of the commonly ordered stuff (software as well as hardware). They also managed together with the factories (primarily Ayr) to get commonly ordered stuff set up to do 5 day turnround from order to shipment, which was unheard of back then, and is still not entirely routine these days.
Tell that to the young people of today and ... you know the rest.