back to article Cray-1 resurfaces in pieces on eBay

What are the odds that two different sellers on both sides of the Pond would find themselves peddling some of the processing modules of the original Cray-1 vector supercomputer? The probability would be 1. A chap in the United Kingdom put up one of the original Cray-1 gate array modules on the UK eBay site for £550 on May 17 …


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  1. Philip Cohen

    eBay New Data Center

    Maybe John "Noise" Donahoe should have put in a bid for this ...

    And, for anyone interested in eBay’s stupidity and deviousness generally, and in particular eBay’s demonstrable and deliberate criminal facilitation of the rampant shill bidding fraud being perpetrated by many unscrupulous professional sellers on buyers, particularly on nominal-start auctions, an introduction thereto (along with some good PayPal horror stories thrown in for good measure) can be found at

  2. Anonymous Coward

    according to the description of the US one

    "no chips or scratches"

    I'd at least expect some chips...

    1. Cazzo Enorme

      @according to the description of the US one

      "I'd at least expect some chips..."

      I was under the impression that the Cray 1 was largely built of discrete components and miles of hand wiring.

      1. Naughtyhorse

        discrete components?


        with no basis othert than my own prejudice, i'd strongly suspect not.....

        and after a visit to wiki (whaddy mean unreliable) aparrently not

        the cray 1 was the first cray using IC's.

        the power/heat generated by even a little transistor is vast by comparason with the admittedly crude IC's of the day.

        Plus (also a bit of a punt) I'd say things like thermal drift and hFE variations would be far less of an issue with IC's

        1. /dev/null


          Yes, the Cray-1 did use ICs, but mainly very simple SSI ones. The biggest device used in terms of number of gates was a 1kbit SRAM. Seymour resisted VLSI devices for quite a while - even the Cray-3 in 1993 had pretty low-scale integration, although it did use bleeding-edge GaAs ICs.

  3. Greg J Preece

    No-one bid??

    If I'd have known it was there, I'd have bid! Awesome thing to have in your study/server shed, and you have to admit, it'd be a hell of a conversation starter.

    1. John 62

      depends on who you want to talk to

      tell the (prospective) significant other it's a designer chair :)

    2. DidcotMan

      Seller replies! :-)

      If you or anyone else is interested, I have it for sale along with a few other Cray items here:

      For the record, the difference between the two modules is that mine is from Cray-1 serial number 1, the original, the other is from an other Cray-1.

      I'll ship it anywhere in the world, although it weighs a bit and so shipping outside the UK won't be cheap.

      And no, this wasn't the one at Farnborough. They did have a Cray-1 if I remember rightly, and a few other models along the way, but the floor wasn't transparent although the wall was, so visitors could gawk.

  4. Mr Grumblefish

    Expensive paperweight

    Yes, but at least if you collect 'em all you get somewhere to sit.

    The brown cushions in the picture look a bit daggy, though. I'll take one in bright funky 70's orange.

  5. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Up


    I want the one Ben Kingsley's shady hacker character had in the film Sneakers!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Garden Ornament

    I think that would look quite funky in the back garden.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    In typical Teutonic fashion, I will now educate TheReg about "Blinken".

    You can say

    "Das Blinken der Lichter"

    "Das Blinken der Lampen"

    "Das Blinken der Lämpchen"

    "blinkende Lämpchen"

    the last one should be quite familiar for English speakers "(small) blinking lights"

    Was it the same person who invented "verkrumpen" ?

  8. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Cloud reaches Mature Puberty and makes ITs Virtual Claim on Planet Sovereignty

    Who needs a Super Computing HPC Mainframe nowadays whenever any SMARTer Driver with/of a Global Operating Device plugged into the Internet can infect/effect/input Instruction Sets to Steer Humanity on whatever course they would be Pleased to Direct. ...... and which the Old System of Operating Systems would be Powerless to Prevent .

    "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know." ....... Nice one, Donald, and it is even more interesting whenever something has happened and no one knows who should know for then you can do whatever you like before you let them know what they don't know.

  9. Andy Landy

    no, it is "das blinkenlights"

    not just history, this is our _heritage_

  10. Cazzo Enorme

    RAE Farnborough

    "This original Cray-1 was shipped off to the European Weather Centre in the UK, and then absorbed into the bowels of a UK government site for heaven only knows what purpose."

    Back in the mid 1980s I did work experience at the Royal Aeronautical Establishment (RAE) in Farnborough, home of the famous air show. This site was renamed DRA and then DERA, before being sold off as part of the Qinetiq consortium (despite it being common land that was originally used as the Royal Balloon Factory on the understanding it returned to being common land if the government were ever done with it).

    While I was there, I was shown a lot of interesting places on the site, including a building that housed a former NASA super computer. I wasn't allowed in to the building itself, but was told that it had been purpose built for the computer and included water cooling in ducts under a see-through floor. I always suspected it housed a Cray, as that was the only super computer I knew of. Perhaps it was this one ...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ha, I've got two.

    Some years ago another US government supercomputer site did actually sell off a sizeable number of Cray 1 modules. They were available for sale on their museum web site. I bought three. I sold one to a mate for cost, and still have the other two. Nice to see that they are now worth over 10 times what I paid. Not that I have the slightest intention of ever selling them.

    The irony is that they are probably getting close to their initial purchase value.

  12. Mips
    Jobs Horns

    I once went for a job...

    ... at the European Weather Centre and there it was. Just like it is in the photo. If I had known it was THE Cray 1 I would have take a bit more notice. Might have got the job as well.

    1. DidcotMan


      You could be excused for not taking more notice of it... :-) For that was indeed serial no 1 you were looking at and it was much shorter than all the other Cray-1s that followed it - there was no memory error correction (Seymour resented that it slowed the machine down). So there were actually fewer modules in the columns, plus the cold bars didn't have those castellated bits on top.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't want one of the processing modules....

    ...I want one of the seat cushions.

    WHY... did they design these things with built in seating?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The cooling system projected outwards from the base of the system. Rather than having people tripping over it, Cray turned it into seating.

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