The Cray series of super computers have been pretty much symbolic for high-powered computing since the 1970s, and to this day there’s a certain level of mysticism to them. Much of this is also helped by how rare these systems were and are today. Unlike Commodore, Apple and IBM PC systems which got sold by the truckload, Cray super computers and the much smaller workstation systems were and are significantly more rare. Despite or perhaps because of this [Andras Tantos] embarked on a decade-long quest to bring together what is left of the Cray legacy in the form of the Cray Files.

Part of this is a Cray system simulator that can be found on GitHub as well as online. This simulator allows you to run software written for the Cray X-MP (1982), Y-MP (1988), J90 (1994) and SV1 (1998), which covers essentially all major Cray systems after the Cray 1 and up till when Cray had become part of SGI in 1996. Described in the blog is the extensive archaeological work [Andras] had to undertake to unearth and resurrect these systems. Along the way he got a few lucky breaks, such as when finding two UNICOS CD images on, and when people who used to work with Cray systems still had software and such lying around, along with the treasure trove of knowledge contained in their memories.

Although these Cray computer systems are as solidly obsolete as SGI and Sun’s once high-end systems of the 1990s are today, very few would have gotten a chance to use any of those systems, which makes it even more important that they are preserved. As an ongoing project, [Andras] is asking for anyone who might be able to fill in some of the remaining blanks to contact him.

[Heading photo: Cray X-MP serial number 302 being assembled (Credit: Andy Gelme)]