March 5: The Museum in Washington, DC will open today. Due to weather, the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA is closed.
This is a CRAY-1, an early example of a class of computers called "supercomputers." It was built by Cray Research, Inc. of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and installed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. Unlike most computers, it was hand-wired, and its circuits were arranged in a three-quarters circle. Both helped increase the speeds at which signals travel from one part of the computer to another. Hefty power supplies are located below each of the circuit bays, and the padding on them suggests a piece of lounge furniture.
At NCAR, the machine was used between 1977 and 1983, where it performed complex calculations involving the numerical modeling of weather phenomena. As the speeds of ordinary workstations increased over the years, it became obsolete and was donated to the Smithsonian.
Gift of Cray Research, Inc.