Today, IBM will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stretch supercomputer, a machine that was originally thought to be a failure. The Stretch computer was IBM’s attempt at a 100x increase in performance over its current generation of IBM 704 machines.
The project, circa the late 1950′s, was only able to deliver a 30-40x speedup. However, Stretch contained numerous innovations that were later carried on to more successful projects. The list includes multiprogramming, pipelining, memory protection, memory interleaving and the eight-bit byte. Notice that many of these features showed up in IBM’s next big project, the System/360.
The event will be marked by a ceremony and several talks by some of the original IBM engineers. Fred Allen, Fred Brooks and Harwood Kolsky will all be on hand. The event will be held today at the Computer History Museum in Mountain, View CA at 6:00PM PST.