75 years of Innovators: Seymour Cray

Jan. 8, 2004
Seymour Cray designed and built some of the world's first large-scale supercomputers. He helped found Control Data Corp. in 1957.

In the 75 years since Machine Design began publication, here are some of the people who have changed the way we live.

Seymour Cray
Superman of supercomputers

In 1960, he completed the design of the Control Data 1604, the first computer to be fully transistorized. He also began the design of the first supercomputer, the CDC 6600, which was also the first to use 3D packaging and what later became known as reduced instruction set computing, Risc.

In 1972, he founded Cray Research and developed the Cray-1 and Cray-2 supercomputers. The Cray-3, while not commercially successful, reliably operated at a 500-MHz clock speed. His last system, the Cray-4, which was near completion before he abandoned it, was operating at a clock speed of 1 GHz in 1994.

Cray invented a number of technologies including Cray-1 vector register technology, cooling technologies for the Cray-2 supercomputer, the CDC 6600 freon-cooling system, and a magnetic amplifier for Engineering Research Associates (ERA). He also contributed to the design of Cray-1 cooling technology.

As an aside, one of Cray's favorite pastimes was digging tunnels, apparently for the sheer joy of digging them.

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