[SIGCIS-Members] Cray 1 serial number 01 being put together on Facebook Live at SC 2018

David Grier grier at email.gwu.edu
Sat Nov 17 17:03:05 PST 2018


You know, our school- like I believe all schools - require us to put our research plans through an IRB review.  The historians are generally quite cavalier about the process and view it as a form of red tape. I think I subscribed to that point of view but this discussion has given me pause - especially the the recent photo of the serial plate. I never did much with #1, though I had a little exposure to it. I mostly worked in #7 (or maybe 17, the GTE machine). And I was a software engineer for a competing company trying to unseat Cray. Work done in vain. I’ve seen decommissioned Crays before. Heavens I’ve seen a photo of my machine in a Pennsylvania landfill.  But the recent discussion had made it clear that that machine, that time of my life and the concerns of that time have passed into history. Nothing can bring them back. The things that required such thought and the skills we needed to make them work are now curiosities.  I once edited a journal with an “Old-timers” column and had no thought about it but I now wonder if that term doesn’t have more sting than I thought at the time. The Cray was a beautifully engineered machine and the programming techniques, especially those to eliminate dependencies were a painstakingly built body of knowledge. But they were of a time now passed and  we are faced with describing that world with some of the survivors in our midst. We can approach it from several points of view: heroism, nostalgia, curiosity,  a second guessed critique of the engineering, a search for physical histories of the Cold War.  We know that the eye witnesses of technical development don’t always see thing clearly. We don’t always think about their feeling when we are fur a different point of view. That must be a reason for  IRB reviews and this discussion, at least for me, has illustrated the psychological and emotional gulf between then and now, between the perspective of those who were working in a field and those who are trying to analyze it with our current consciousness. I’ve always thought that history should strive to rise above the personal. From this discussion, I think I understand a little better, why that is so hard. 

> On Nov 17, 2018, at 5:24 PM, Irish, Sharon Lee <slirish at illinois.edu> wrote:
> 
> Editor’s note: I cropped the image and reduced its size because the file was too big for the list. ~ Sharon Irish
> 
> Greetings,
>  
> Please let me offer this image from the Cray-1 that was on display at SC18 in Dallas last week, an image taken when it was disassembled.  It is a closeup of the manufacturer tags showing it to be a Cray-1B serial number 1.  Hopefully it helps to confirm this one small detail.  Also, let me note that this machine garnered much attention from many of the 13,000 SC18 attendees.  Cheers,
>  
> Dana Freiburger, Graduate Student Researcher,  SC18 30th Anniversary Committee
> Doctoral Candidate, History of Science Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison
> <CrayResearchTags[2].png>
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