Also, gigaom has a much better article up here:
.. with a link to an interesting walkthough of the emulator in-progress:
Why would anyone do this?
No, that was Cray Research's first computer. Seymour Cray was designing computers for Control Data Corporation long before that: the CDC 1604 (in 1960); the CDC 3000 series; the CDC 6600 (the first commercial supercomputer) and its successors.
From him, I learned the phrase "It's better to ask for forgiveness than permission". Still my favorite manager ever, and one of the reasons I believe mentoring is so important in our industry.
(I actually worked with a lot of former Cray engineers in the late 1990s. Brilliant, all of them. I learned a lot.)
Also some customers developed their own operating systems.
Note that systems like this also required a separate management computer to boot the mainframe and load the OS.
Here's a picture of it that you probably haven't seen before (in this resolution anyway): http://i.imgur.com/OHqUfmk.jpg
I read on Wikipedia that e.g. NCAR turned off their Cray-1 in 1988. Though it would be really cool if there is still a Cray-1 in an useable state.
I stood next to Cray-1, Cray X-MP and Cray-2 supercomputers in museums in Europe (London, Munich). The unique cooling system that also acts as bench was a nice idea. And the second one was submerged in an (special) oil tank.
Probably used `metric inches', like in the Soviet Union? (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_inch)
1000 times faster than the original.
It is not only the computing advances that are amazing, those "seats" around the Cray are actually the power supply!
Bellard's x86 js emulator, which is as good as it can get, has a performance comparable with a 486. A 486 is slower than a Cray 1. It seems that even today you can't emulate a cray in the browser at native speed, nothing can come close to that 1000 times faster idea.
Besides, if you really want to emulate a Cray, it's not the OS that's important so much as that almighty FORTRAN compiler! Part of the fun of working with old Cray guys was listening to the ranting about how FORTRAN is the Best Language Ever and that by removing a layer of memory indirection, it's faster than even C. Of course, you're then hardcoding the living crap out of everything, but that was handwaved away as a minor price to be paid for real performance....
You switched units from mega to giga there.
Here's a cutaway http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6e/Cray_1_IM...
Think about the fact not only an iphone has more computing power but 115 kilowatts vs 5 watts.
“For these machines (Cray-1 or X-MP) you couldn’t really go into a store
and buy an application, like you do for a PC these days. Now, you just
‘install’ Word and it runs. For these machines, everything came in
source-code format and you needed to compile it before you could run
it. You use the … compiler to turn it into machine code the machine
could understand,” Tantos said. “That was the main way you interacted with
these machines. Without the compiler, you can’t feed it that.”
If you're interested in experiencing the joy of setting up OS/360 first hand, it's more possible than you might think. Here are instructions for building OS/360 on the Hercules emulator:
None of the steps in the process is all that involved, but some of the mechanics are very different. 60's vintage OS/360 on an IBM mainframe is very unlike the Unix model that most people are used to these days.
It is fascinating to see how far back the methodology goes though, I wasn't aware of this.
The Supermen: The Story of Seymour Cray and the Technical Wizards Behind the Supercomputer
It's a great book about Seymour Cray (biography) that details all his work. He was one of the very best, a real hero. Sadly he died in a car accident in the nineties.
Seymour Cray, the supercomputer architect, died of head and neck injuries suffered in a traffic collision in 1996. His vehicle — a Jeep Cherokee — was designed using a Cray supercomputer.
[source: "The Supermen: The Story of Seymour Cray and the Technical Wizards Behind the Supercomputer" book]
[I wonder about the filters - this submission has some discussion to it]
Odd that only hobbyists seem to be involved with this.
Google for "museum of computing", I find a multitude of institutions. What else would they do but something like this?
Larger museums are only interested in famous milestone computers (The Apple II, Commodore 64 etc).