Living Computers Museum Adds Two Iconic Cray Systems

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Today the Living Computers: Museum + Labs added a pair of Cray supercomputers to its permanent collection. The Cray-1 supercomputer went on display at Living Computers this week and will be joined by the Cray-2 supercomputer later this year. Living Computers intends to recommission the Cray-2 and make it available to the public.

I honestly can’t overstate how important these two supercomputers are to computing history, and I am thrilled to be adding them to our collection,” says Lath Carlson, Executive Director of Living Computers. “Bringing these milestones back from the depths of storage has been an incredible journey, and we look forward to making them available to the public.” Living Computers will also host a private reception for the Cray User Group on May 9th to celebrate the new home of these Cray supercomputers.

The world’s first supercomputer, the 1965 Control Data Corporation 6000 series, was designed by the brilliant engineer Seymour Cray and represented a threefold increase in computing power. Living Computers, which has the world’s only operating CDC 6500, wished to add to their collection by obtaining Cray’s next invention, the Cray-1 supercomputer. Released in 1976 from Cray Research Inc. in Seymour’s hometown of Chippewa Falls Wisconsin, the Cray-1 was a fixture at elite labs and universities. Originally priced between $5M and $8M, over 80 Cray-1s were sold. The Cray-1 Serial #12 was bought by the University of Minnesota with a custom maroon and gold color scheme before it was transferred to the spin-off Minnesota Supercomputing Center. This computer was just moved from Cray’s St. Paul office to Seattle, WA – the current headquarters of Cray Inc. – to be placed on display at Living Computers.

As a follow-up to the Cray-1, Seymour designed a liquid cooled computer made from dense stacks of circuit boards immersed in coolant, thus, the Cray-2 (nicknamed “Bubbles”) was born. Setting the new standard in supercomputer performance at 1.9 gigaflops, the Cray-2 held the title of fastest computer in the world from its release in 1985 until 1990. Living Computers has acquired the world’s most complete and advanced Cray-2, a 4 Core 512MW version. This is the last Seymour Cray-designed computer to be operating and was taken out of service at the Minnesota Super Computing Center in 1992.

The Cray-1 and the Cray-2 supercomputers are an integral part of our company’s history, and played a critical role in the establishment of the supercomputing industry and the development of Cray as a company,” said Barry Bolding, chief strategy officer at Cray. “Supercomputing is more relevant than ever in today’s world of big data and AI, and a clear understanding of our past empowers our visions for future technologies. Living Computers serves an important function for computing technology enthusiasts, and we couldn’t be happier that these two pioneering pieces of Cray history will be on display for all to see.”

CRAY Computer SystemLiving Computers: Museum + Labs provides a one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience with computer technology from the 1960s to the present. LCM+L honors the history of computing with the world’s largest collection of fully restored and usable supercomputers, mainframes, minicomputers and microcomputers. A new main gallery offers direct experiences with robotics, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, big data, the Internet of Things, video-game making, and digital art. The main floor also features education labs for learning new skills. Learn more at Come in. Geek out.

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