LOS ALAMOS, N.M. -- Many great masterpieces reside in museums. There's the "Mona Lisa" at the Louvre. "Nighthawks at the Diner" graces the wall at the Art Institute of Chicago. And the Cray-1 sits at the Bradbury Science Museum here in Los Alamos.
The first Cray-1 was installed at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1976 at a cost of $8.8 million. It set a new world record speed of 160 million floating-point operations per second and boasted 8MB of main memory. According to the museum, it was the first computer to break the megaflop barrier.
By today's hardware standards, the Cray-1 is a great lumbering beast. The dramatic lighting shining on it at the Bradbury exhibit shows off its curves and hulking size. But by 1976 standards, it was a svelte creation whose circular shape kept the complex wiring compact. … Read more