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 legacy led hobbyists Chris Fenton and Andras Tantos to pose what they thought would be a simple question to answer: How can I build a Cray-1 for my desk?

A tiny replica takes shape

In 2010, Fenton, a New York City-based electrical engineer who actually works on modern supercomputers, decided to replicate the physical form of the computer. Its hardware was well-documented online, so building it came together quickly. Fenton used a CNC machine and glue…

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