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Old 08-10-2018, 09:18 PM   #1
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Chippewa Falls Museum of Industry and Technology

In the town of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin is a museum that contains several supercomputers, the fastest machines of their time. The machines shown in these three photos easily exceeded $100 million original cost. Anyone knowing what they were looking at would be stunned and amazed, as I was. All in two rooms in a small town in Wisconsin.

My tour guide today was a friend of mine, a former senior engineer at Cray Research. He helped design and build several of the computers shown here. It was like being given a tour of the National Air & Space Museum by John Glenn, or a tour of the National Gallery East Wing by Jackson Pollack. Without the mess.
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File Type: jpg 20180810_supercomputers_1.jpg (397.5 KB, 42 views)
File Type: jpg 20180810_supercomputers_2.jpg (321.1 KB, 38 views)
File Type: jpg 20180810_supercomputers_3.jpg (333.2 KB, 37 views)
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Old 08-11-2018, 06:24 AM   #2
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I thought they would have been bigger, some of what IBM built were building sized. My dad was an EDP (electronic data processing) manager in the early days of Social Security computers and their units took up entire floors at the new location in Woodlawn, MD. I miss his xmas wreaths made with IBM punchcards.....
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Old 08-11-2018, 07:35 AM   #3
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I thought they would have been bigger, some of what IBM built were building sized.
The speed of light becomes a factor in high performance computing; the machines have to be relatively compact so that physical length of the wiring in the computers doesn't slow them down. Some of these machines also have all the wires the same length so that the signals arrive at the same time.

The big IBM mainframes are built for reliability. IBM service people can swap out processor boards and other electronic components while the machines are still running. It's pretty impressive.

Today your cellphone can probably outperform a Cray 1, which was built in the 1970s.
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Old 08-11-2018, 07:50 AM   #4
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I guess I should add that modern supercomputers can be and are room-sized. Their programming model is different than the early Crays so that the processors and memory can be spaced out more. You can only squeeze in so much electronics in one place before the thing melts through the floor.

The national laboratories e.g. Oak Ridge have hugh computers that are made up of many racks of systems similar to the Cray X1 and Cray XT5h show in the third photo in my first post.
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Old 08-11-2018, 08:59 AM   #5
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I guess I should add that modern supercomputers can be and are room-sized. Their programming model is different than the early Crays so that the processors and memory can be spaced out more. You can only squeeze in so much electronics in one place before the thing melts through the floor.

The national laboratories e.g. Oak Ridge have hugh computers that are made up of many racks of systems similar to the Cray X1 and Cray XT5h show in the third photo in my first post.
Hi: Mike Lewis... Very interesting. All this hot topic and melting through the floor talk makes me thirsty. Did you happen to visit The leinenkugles brewery for some free samples of "Summer Shandy"? http://www.leinie.com Alf
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:01 AM   #6
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Hi: Mike Lewis... Very interesting. All this hot topic and melting through the floor talk makes me thirsty. Did you happen to visit The leinenkugles brewery for some free samples of "Summer Shandy"? http://www.leinie.com Alf
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Not yet but I may do so this afternoon. Good idea, thanks!
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:19 AM   #7
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Not yet but I may do so this afternoon. Good idea, thanks!
There’s also a very nice micro brewery in CF. Forget the name, but it is on the river on BR 29 near downtown.
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:55 PM   #8
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If you are in the Boulder, CO area you can go to NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research), Table Mesa and see some super computers in current use as well as displays of atmospheric science. Also several good hiking trails leading into the foothills from the NCAR site which has free parking. Also good bicycling on the roads going to NCAR and on up the road to a Boulder County park which makes you pay for parking.
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Old 08-11-2018, 03:34 PM   #9
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It's good that NCAR does this, as many supercomputers are involved in classified projects and are thus off limits to the public. I knew a former NCAR guy who went to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, but I had forgotten where NCAR was located.
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Old 08-11-2018, 04:39 PM   #10
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....but I had forgotten where NCAR was located.

THEY, actually erased that memory from your brain.
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Old 08-11-2018, 06:54 PM   #11
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Memory erasers

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Old 08-11-2018, 09:47 PM   #12
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Hi: Mike Lewis... Very interesting. All this hot topic and melting through the floor talk makes me thirsty. Did you happen to visit The leinenkugles brewery for some free samples of "Summer Shandy"? http://www.leinie.com Alf
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Alf, Claire and I stopped there on our way to Tbay from GA in June. Bought a six pack of various beers. Beth likes the summer shandy, the only beer she's ever liked.
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Old 08-11-2018, 10:16 PM   #13
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Mike, seeing those old super computers, relics of a beloved golden age, reminded me of something I recently found buried up in the attic. Yes that is it, the Gilchrist number 22, the first ever automated malted milk shake maker.
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Old 08-11-2018, 10:38 PM   #14
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Hi Myron
Remember when the soda jerk or jerkette would dislodge the cup and lift it up and down tilted slightly to get a full mix of the “stuff” on the sides of the cup? If they were not careful the little high speed wheel would contact the cup and make a bad noise. I always wondered if the inside of the cup was giving up some metal or if the little metal wheel was sacrificial and the owner had a spare in the drawer? One of those mysteries of life that I wasted time thinking about. Nice mixer. I remember some were pastel blue- green and might have been a Hamilton/Beach?
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Old 08-11-2018, 10:53 PM   #15
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Mine still works. Back in the day, like a big IBM mainframe, they for sure made things to last. Saved from 1949 out of my dad's corner candy store on Grove Street. No sign of grooves inside the metal cup. Polished it up and we use it!
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:02 PM   #16
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Guess that buzzing sound wasn’t doing that much damage. They really made some stainless in those days too. Plenty of nickel. Those model 12 Winchester shotguns were nickel steel too and were good for a lot of rounds and abuse.
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:05 PM   #17
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Don't get me started.
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Old 08-12-2018, 07:49 AM   #18
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Oh did he lie and also almost killed NASA
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Old 08-12-2018, 08:24 AM   #19
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Quote:
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Guess that buzzing sound wasn’t doing that much damage. They really made some stainless in those days too. Plenty of nickel. Those model 12 Winchester shotguns were nickel steel too and were good for a lot of rounds and abuse.
“I wish a buck was still silver and a joint, a bad place to be, it was back before Nixon lied to us all on TV”
Iowa Dave
Hi: Iowa Dave... Tricky Dickie was a "Choir boy" comparitivly. He did set a precident for today though. Now about those milk shakes... My fav. was a lemon lime float at the Merla Mae soft serve. No buzzing sound required, only a quarter, and a 1/2 hr. bike ride. Alf
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Old 08-12-2018, 10:53 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by MyronL View Post
Mike, seeing those old super computers, relics of a beloved golden age, reminded me of something I recently found buried up in the attic. Yes that is it, the Gilchrist number 22, the first ever automated malted milk shake maker.
Cool! I recently discovered my mom's old Electrolux vacuum in my attic. I remember it from when I was a kid. I haven't tried it out yet to see if it works.

Unlike a vintage milkshake maker or vacuum cleaner, the supercomputers became worthless after only a few years due to technological progress. The Cray 2, the small round machine with clear sides in the first photo cost $25 million new, but in just a few years it was obsolete. These machines were really expensive to run; they used a lot of electricity. So newer machines from Cray and others were so much faster that it was more cost-effective to replace the old one after a few years, expensive as it was to purchase.
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