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).
A Piece of Computer History
This 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.
The specimen comes in two varieties, one with a segment of a Module Board and one with both a board and IC Chip. It is housed in an acrylic jar that is encased within a glass-topped riker display box. The box measures 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". A small information card is also included, which serves as the certificate of authenticity.
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.
Both single Module Board segments and Module Board + IC Chip specimens are available
Chip and Board
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 substitutedin place of the Fairchild 10415FC.
📸 Cray-1 from the from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), 1983.
About Seymour Cray and the Cray-1
Eschewing the methods of the past, Cray created a new kind of supercomputer company using just four main principles: simplicity, size, discipline, and cooling.
📸 A Cray-1 at the Magnetic Fusion Energy Computer Center, 1978
A Revolutionary New Design
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.
📸 Cray-1 cabinet design from Seymour Cray's 1978 Patent
Engineered to Perfection
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.
Want to see more of the original machine's design? Check out the 1976 system brocure here.
Additionally, you can check out a talk given by Seymour Cray discussing the Cray-1 and the field of computers.
Front of the Specimen Card
Back of the Specimen Card (IC Chip and Module Board)
Cray, Seymour. Live presentation at Los Alamos National Lab (LANL), 1976. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtOA1vuoDgQ
Murray, Charles J., and Arthur L. Norberg. The supermen: the story of Seymour Cray and the technical wizards behind the supercomputer. Wiley, 1997.
Igarashi, Yoshihide, et al. Computing: A historical and technical perspective. CRC Press, 2014.
First Transatlantic Cable