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The Search for the Lost Cray Supercomputer OS

In 1976, famed computer architect Seymour Cray released one of the most successful supercomputers ever made: the Cray-1, a stylish 5.5-ton C-shaped tower that was quickly embraced by laboratories all over the world. While it soon gave way to newer, faster Cray models that then faded away entirely in the ’90s due to huge cost and performance advances in supercomputing, its iconic shape and early success left a lasting legacy in the industry.

That led hobbyists Chris Fenton and Andras Tantos to ask: How can I build a Cray-1 for my desk?

Fenton was able to replicate the architecture, but he hit a wall when he began searching for software to make the Cray model fully operational. He determined none of the code from the original OS was available via the internet, so he went analog. He asked the Computer History Museum and government whether they had a copy laying around. Nope.

His first lead came via a friend who introduced him to Donald Lee, a former Cray software engineer who had “this giant 10-pound disk pack” — an early, removable medium for data storage — in the basement of his Minnesota home. 

Read more at GigaOM.

 

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