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Star Tribune Reflects on the Life of Seymour Cray

Seymour Cray showed off the Cray-1 supercomputer built in 1976 by Cray Research in Chippewa Falls, Wis. Cray revolutionized computing, ramping up productivity and speed with each new design.

Seymour Cray showed off the Cray-1 supercomputer built in 1976 by Cray Research in Chippewa Falls, Wis. Cray revolutionized computing, ramping up productivity and speed with each new design.

Over at the Star Tribune, Curt Brown has posted a brief history on the life of Seymour Cray, the Father of the Supercomputing Industry.

It seems impossible to exaggerate the effect he had on the industry,” said Joel Birnbaum, a Hewlett-Packard executive. “Many of the things that high performance computers now do routinely were at the furthest edge of credibility when Seymour envisioned them. … He ranks up there with Edison and Bell.”

To go with this post, I thought I would share this video tribute to Seymour that I helped produce shortly after his tragic death in 1996.

Before we shot the interviews, I went through hours and hours of archival footage, and then I found this amazing piece where the interviewer asked Seymour how he wanted to be remembered. That moment and the simplicity of his answer sticks with me to this day. If you’ve ever wondered what kind of person he was, this will bring it home.

When I first wrote about this video here at insideHPC five years ago, I included this:

You may not know this, but the car accident that ended Seymour Cray’s life was the result of road rage. He was going too slowly for someone, and the driver cut him off after passing him on the freeway ramp.

I think we all owe a lot to Seymour Cray. The supercomputing industry he created has put bread on my table for the bulk of my career. Maybe we can start to pay him back by not being in such a hurry. Whatever mega-work stress you’re carrying around with you, please, please don’t take it with you behind the wheel.

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