First Supercomputer Cray-1

$ 39.00 

  • First Supercomputer Cray-1
  • First Supercomputer Cray-1
  • First Supercomputer Cray-1
  • First Supercomputer Cray-1
  • First Supercomputer Cray-1
  • First Supercomputer Cray-1
  • First Supercomputer Cray-1

This product is currently sold out.

NEW! The First Supercomputer now includes a small section of the module board. Note that all pins have been removed from the Integrated Circuit chips in the current batch.

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

This item includes two (2) specimens: a surface mounted Integrated Circuit (IC) and a small section of the original module board. Both items were originally part of the Cray-1 Supercomputer installed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California. Introduced in 1975, the complete Cray-1 weighed 5.5 tons and was capable of 80 million floating-point operations per second.

The Cray-1 first appeared in the Second Edition of the Mini Museum. The artifact in that collection was a fragment of the module board on which these chips were once installed.

As shown, the specimens are 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.

Please Note: This specimen is offered in a "blind box" style. The condition of the chips varies broadly and all pins have been removed. 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 or size IC or board.

It's also important to note that the boards were removed after the Cray-1 was decommissioned. As a result, some chips will have later serial dates since newer boards were installed to replace failed boards over time.

Furthermore, it's also important to note that while Fairchild chips were most often used throughout the Cray-1, in certain circumstances both Motorolla and Fujitsu SRAMs were occasionally substituted in place of the Fairchild 10415FC. This item makes use of all the chips recovered from lost boards.

LIMITED ITEM: In order to share this item with as many people as possible, we're limiting purchases to just two (2).

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 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.

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