Skip to main content

First Supercomputer Cray-1

First Supercomputer Cray-1

NEW! We've just added a short run of IC Chip and Module Board displays. This run is extremely limited in quantity.

"There's something about the speed of light; It's just hard to get around." ~ Seymour Cray

This item includes a small section of an original Cray-1 Module Board. We also have an alternate version that includes an IC Chip (see details below).

Above: IC Chips and Module Board - Note that there are two different versions of this specimen with different prices.

The board was originally part of the Cray-1 Supercomputer installed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Introduced in 1975, the complete Cray-1 weighed 5.5 tons and was capable of 80 million floating-point operations per second.

As shown, the specimen is enclosed in an acrylic jar and protected by a classic, glass-topped riker box case measuring 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". A small information card is also included.

This specimen is offered in a "blind box" style. Color and size of the Module Board fragments and IC Chips varies. We have tried to randomize the order as much as possible, but if you order more than one specimen you may receive a duplicate color though the patterns on the board are likely to be unique.

Special Note About the IC Chip and Module Board Version: It is important to note that the boards were removed after the Cray-1 was decommissioned. As a result, some chips pictured have later serial dates since newer boards were installed to replace failed boards over time. Furthermore, while Fairchild chips were most often used throughout the Cray-1, in certain circumstances both Motorola and Fujitsu SRAMs were occasionally substituted in place of the Fairchild 10415FC. 

About Seymour Cray and the Cray-1

Seymour Cray was a legend in the world of early digital computers. He was also a veteran of past attempts to create large supercomputers:

"If you work in a large corporation it is very hard to keep on one track for 4-5 years. So, I think that building large computers should be done with the fewest possible people. One is perfect, but it can't quite work with one. The next best thing is about 12."

Eschewing the methods of the past, Cray created a new kind of supercomputer company using just four main principles: simplicity, size, discipline, and cooling.

Earlier attempts to create a viable supercomputer involved the use of incredibly complex integrated circuits. The Cray-1 used just three different types of integrated circuits across the entire machine, vastly simplifying the architecture. For cooling, freon circulated through stainless steel tubing bonded between vertical wedges of aluminum fitted between the stacks of circuit boards.

Cray's innovations yielded a machine that was so advanced that a bidding war ensued for the first machine off the line. This made the Cray-1 was the first commercially successful supercomputer and launched the legend that became Cray Research.

The iconic look of the Cray-1 is more than just 1970's aesthetics at play. Everything was thought through to provide advantages in performance.

The columnar design of the cabinet allowed Cray to minimize the amount of wiring between processing stacks, while the cushions ringing the unit covered the enormous power supplies at the base of each tower.

Additional References:

The Original Cray-1 Computer System Brochure [PDF]

Below is a talk given by Seymour Cray in 1976 discussing the Cray-1 and the field of computers:

Image Credit: Cray-1 Image used in the gallery comes from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and is circa 1983.

Recently viewed

Thanks for contacting us! We'll get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks for subscribing Thanks! We will notify you when it becomes available! The max number of items have already been added There is only one item left to add to the cart There are only [num_items] items left to add to the cart