Cray – who would have been 90 years old this week – was the engineering brain behind a family of systems that broke ground in architecture and performance. They broke new ground on price, too: Cray’s computers cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, with the Cray-1 weighing in at $8.8m – an estimated $34m in today’s money.
This meant Crays could be afforded only by the top elite boffins in the arenas of science and the military, who used them to crunch vast models on weather prediction and the potential fallout from nuclear bombs. Such systems were out of the price range of even the biggest private firms.
As a kid I remember reading about the Cray-2 and thinking how cool it would be to have access to that much processing power.
Now, a little bit of napkin-sketching math says that I have ten times that in my MacBook Pro.
Never underestimate the power of Moore’s Law, kids.