Computer Nerd Event

Technology marched forth as the Cray-1 supercomputer is shipped on March 4, 1976

The Cray-1 was a supercomputer designed, manufactured, and marketed by Cray Research. The first Cray-1 system was installed at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1976, and it went on to become one of the best known and most successful supercomputers in history. The Cray-1’s architect was Seymour Cray and the chief engineer was Cray Research co-founder Lester Davis. In 1975 the 80 MHz Cray-1 was announced. Excitement was so high that a bidding war for the first machine broke out between Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory, the latter eventually winning and receiving serial number 001 in 1976 for a six-month trial. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) was Cray Research’s first official customer in 1977, paying US$8.86 million ($7.9 million plus $1 million for the disks) for serial number 3. The NCAR machine was decommissioned in 1989. The company expected to sell perhaps a dozen of the machines, and set the selling price accordingly, but over eighty Cray-1s of all types were sold, priced from $5M to $8M. The machine made Cray a celebrity and the company a success, lasting until the supercomputer crash in the early 1990s. The Cray-1 was succeeded in 1982 by the 800 MFLOPS Cray X-MP, the first Cray multi-processing computer. In 1985 the very advanced Cray-2, capable of 1.9 GFLOPS peak performance, succeeded the two first models but met a somewhat limited commercial success because of certain problems at producing sustained performance in real-world applications. A more conservatively designed evolutionary successor of the Cray-1 and X-MP models was therefore made, by the name Cray Y-MP, and launched in 1988.

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Science Nerd

Arthur Kornberg (American biochemist) was born on March 3, 1918

Arthur Kornberg was an American biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1959 for his discovery of “the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)” together with Dr. Severo Ochoa of New York University. He was also awarded the Paul-Lewis Laboratories Award in Enzyme Chemistry from the American Chemical Society in 1951, L.H.D. degree from Yeshiva University in 1962, as well as National Medal of Science in 1979. His primary research interests were in biochemistry, especially enzyme chemistry, deoxyribonucleic acid synthesis (DNA replication) and studying the nucleic acids which control heredity in animals, plants, bacteria and viruses.

Artist Nerd, Writer Nerd

Dr. Seuss (Ted Geisel) was born on March 2, 1904

Theodor Seuss Geisel, commonly known by his pen name Dr. Seuss, was an American writer and cartoonist most widely known for his children’s books written under the pen names Dr. Seuss, Theo LeSieg and, in one case, Rosetta Stone. He published 44 children’s books, which were often characterized by imaginative characters, rhyme, and frequent use of trisyllabic meter. His most celebrated books include the bestselling Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton Hears a Who!, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Numerous adaptations of his work have been created, including eleven television specials, three feature films, and a Broadway musical. Geisel also worked as an illustrator for advertising campaigns, most notably for Flit and Standard Oil, and as a political cartoonist for PM, a New York City newspaper. During World War II, he worked in an animation department of the U.S Army, where he wrote Design for Death, a film that later won the 1947 Academy Award for Documentary Feature. Geisel’s birthday, March 2, has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association.

Science Fiction Nerd, Writer Nerd

Steven Barnes (science fiction writer, and human performance technician) was born on March 1, 1952

Steven Barnes is an African-American science fiction writer, lecturer, creative consultant, and human performance technician. He has written several episodes of The Outer Limits and Baywatch. He has also written the episode “Brief Candle” for Stargate SG-1 and the Andromeda episode “The Sum of Its Parts”. Barnes’s first published piece of fiction, the 1979 novelette The Locusts, was written with Larry Niven, and was a Hugo Award nominee. Barnes has had a varied education, including a secondary education at Los Angeles High School. He continued at Pepperdine University, majoring in Communication Arts. He is a certified hypnotherapist, trained at the Transformative Arts Institute in San Anselmo, California.

Science Nerd

Linus Pauling (American chemist, biochemist, and author) was born on February 28, 1901

Linus Carl Pauling was an American chemist, biochemist, peace activist, author and educator. He was one of the most influential chemists in history and ranks among the most important scientists of the 20th century. Pauling was among the first scientists to work in the fields of quantum chemistry and molecular biology. Pauling is one of only four individuals to have won more than one Nobel Prize. He is one of only two people awarded Nobel Prizes in different fields (the Chemistry and Peace prizes), the other being Marie Curie (the Chemistry and Physics prizes), and the only person awarded two unshared prizes.

Female Nerd, Game Nerd

Hou Yifan (Chinese chess prodigy) was born on February 27, 1994

Hou Yifan is a Chinese chess prodigy. She is a former Women’s World Chess Champion, the youngest ever to win the title, as well as the youngest female player ever to qualify for the title of Grandmaster. At the age of 12, Hou became the youngest player ever to participate in the FIDE Women’s World Championship (Yekaterinburg 2006) and the Chess Olympiad (Torino 2006). In June 2007, she became China’s youngest National Women’s Champion ever. She achieved the titles of Woman FIDE Master in January 2004, Woman Grandmaster in January 2007, she would have qualified for the International Master title in September 2008 by reaching the final of the Women’s World Championship but in August 2008 she had already qualified for the Grandmaster title by achieving her 3rd GM norm. In 2010, she became the youngest Women’s World Chess Champion in history by winning the Women’s World Championship in Hatay, Turkey, at the age of 16. She then defended her title by defeating Indian GM Koneru Humpy in November 2011. In the most recent (January 2013) FIDE rating list, Hou is ranked as the No. 1 girl player in the world, the No. 2 female player, and the No. 11 junior player. She is only the third female chess player to achieve a FIDE rating of over 2600.

Computer Nerd

Jef Raskin (American human-computer interface expert) was born on February 26, 1943

Jef Raskin was an American human-computer interface expert best known for starting the Macintosh project for Apple in the late 1970s. Raskin was born in New York City. He received degrees in mathematics (B.S. 1964) and philosophy (B.A. 1965) at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 1967 he earned a master’s degree in computer science at Pennsylvania State University. His first computer program, a music program, was part of his master’s thesis. Raskin later enrolled in a graduate music program at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), but stopped to teach art, photography and computer science there, working as an assistant professor from 1970 until 1974. He occasionally wrote for computer publications, such as Dr. Dobb’s Journal. Raskin first met Apple Computer’s Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak following the debut of their Apple II personal computer at the first West Coast Computer Faire. Steve Jobs hired his firm, Bannister and Crun, which was named for two characters in the BBC radio comedy The Goon Show, to write the Apple II BASIC Programming Manual. In January 1978 Raskin joined Apple as Manager of Publications, the company’s 31st employee. For some time he continued as Director of Publications and New Product Review, and also worked on packaging and other issues. Raskin left Apple in 1982 and formed Information Appliance, Inc. to implement his original concepts excluded from the Macintosh project. The first product was the SwyftCard, a firmware card for the Apple II containing an integrated application suite, also released on a disk as SwyftWare. Information Appliance later shipped the Swyft as a stand-alone laptop computer. Raskin licensed this design to Canon, which shipped a similar product as the Canon Cat. Released in 1987, the unit had an innovative interface that attracted much interest but it did not become a commercial success. Raskin claimed that its failure was due in some part to Steve Jobs, who successfully pitched Canon on the NeXT Computer at about the same time. It has also been suggested that Canon canceled the Cat due to internal rivalries within its divisions. Raskin expanded the meaning of the term cognetics in his book The Humane Interface to mean “the ergonomics of the mind.” According to Raskin Center, “Cognetics brings interface design out of the mystic realm of guruism, transforming it into an engineering discipline with a rigorous theoretical framework.”