Seymour Cray, Super Computers and Inspirational Elves

By Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Thursday, August 10, 2006

Seymour CraySeymour Cray, the father of the supercomputer, died recently aged 71, following a car crash. He was one of the most original computer designers the world has ever seen, and a true maverick. Seeking a way to cool the machine he built in 1985, at the time the fastest computer in the world, he characteristically chose to immerse it in artificial blood. Here is an interesting story on how he solved his problems.

“I was one of those nerds before the name was popular”
Cray, in short, is the Father & Mother of super computers. He is a super genius by any standards.

There are many legends about Seymour Cray. John Rollwagen, a colleague for many years, tells the story of a French scientist who visited Cray’s home in Chippewa Falls. Asked what were the secrets of his success, Cray said “Well, we have elves here, and they help me”. Cray subsequently showed his visitor a tunnel he had built under his house, explaining that when he reached an impasse in his computer design, he would retire to the tunnel to dig. “While I’m digging in the tunnel, the elves will often come to me with solutions to my problem”, he said.

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