Cray

Found this in a basement of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder Colorado:

cray1a-small

It’s the first Cray that shipped, just sitting there. Seymour hisself prolly helped wire the thing (and oh my, there are a lot of wires).

[I stand corrected, it’s serial number 3. There’s a page about it here.]

One of the computing center staff was walking by when I took this picture. He said that they have one in a museum in London that is roped off. When he remarked to one of the curators there that “Ours is better” they asked him why.

“You can sit on ours.” And indeed you can.

Of course it’s not plugged in or doing anything; your average cell phone will run rings around the CRAY-1, on less than a millionth of the power (115KW plus I/O systems plus cooling infrastructure, versus 200ma or so).

The NCAR is a nice visit. They have a good visitor center and I recommend the short film they have there on what they do. The view is nice, too.

I have photos of their machine room, but they’re just the usual boring racks and boxes on a raised floor. One thing that Seymour had was a sense of style.

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6 Responses to Cray

  1. Eric says:

    The computer history museum in Mountain View is pretty sweet as well– they have a Cray, and probably one of everything else as well. But definitely try to catch a demonstration of the Babbage Engine if you go.

    • C'est moi says:

      One of Babbage’s inventions that you can see every day is the cow catcher, a.k.a., pilot, fender, pointy thing on the front of a train.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilot_%28locomotive%29

      I remember I used to take the long way out of the machine rooms at uni so I could walk past the windowed room that held the Cray T3D. I used to take a few seconds to stare at it every time I passed it. I was properly awe struck at such a big machine. It might not have been a proper Cray but it were good enough for me!

      I was at a museum with the girlfriend and we were walking past a long display of mannequins dressed in the fashion of various periods through time, when I noticed a piece of machinery hidden behind of the display cabinets. It was a bleedin’ Jacquard Loom! Why wouldn’t they celebrate such a thing. I nearly had her bored to tears going on about stored programs, Hollerith codes, punch tape, ….

  2. MikeA says:

    The Computer History Museum has at least two Cray-1s, one (that you can sit on) near the Difference Engine, and one in the SuperComputer gallery. Lord knows how many they may have in the warehouse, next to the ArcNet of the Covenant.

    Also, while an iPhone4 or better does a bit better than a Cray-1 on LINPACK, I wouldn’t say “runs rings around”. Maybe in a few more years. But agreed about the power.

  3. ian says:

    We don’t have a computer museum as such in Australia but we do have a CSIRAC fully built where I work :http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/CSIRAC

    I do get to work around it as I install some things beside it, its quite weird after working on raspberry pi’s and arduinos and then looking at this thing.

  4. RobS says:

    Agreed the Cray had style but not all the rest were boring boxes. The Honeywell 200 was elegant; Dr. Gordon the chief designer said so. In fact he said so often enough to bore his family about it. Now he’s gone they wonder what he meant because they weren’t listening. I agree that working with boring boxes is no fun. You couldn’t sit on an H-200 but you could lean on it and spread out your documents across its worktop and watch all the pretty flashing lights while you hoped that it was doing what you’d intended. I’ve tried to explain about that elusive elegance factor on my website http://www.honeypi.org.uk.

    The moral is that if a dad rattles on about his life to his children he must make it sound interesting.

  5. Kevin says:

    Interesting, I took new route in the St, Paul, MN SkyWay last week, I had to stop when I saw Cray. Of course one of these is displayed proudly out front. I wonder what the serial number is?

    Bet those seats get warm

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