Computers That I Have Known

Nick Higham's Numerical Linear Algebra group at the University of Manchester is hosting a conference celebrating Jack Dongarra's 70th birthday July 7 and 8. I am giving a talk, virtually, on July 7. I plan to reminisce about how I did computing in the days before everybody had their own computer in their lap. Here are the slides for the talk, some notes, and some links to this blog for more details.

These computers that have been a vital part of my professional life.


Caltech and University of Utah, 1959 and 1960

Burroughs 205 Datatron

For the story of the only Burroughs 205 computer with a "skip on minus" instruction, see Cleve's Corner blog, "My First Computer".

At first, we programmed in purely numeric machine language. Here is a sample program, a portion of an accounting application, taken from the Burrough's 205 User guide.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1960 - 1961

IBM 709, IBM 7094

Worked for Chuck Lawson for two summers. Introduced to Fortran. For the story of FLOP, see Cleve's Corner blog, FLOP.

Used punched cards.

Stanford, 1961 - 1965

Burroughs 220, Burroughs Algol 58.

Burroughs 5500, full Algol.

IBM 7090, Algol-W, ORVYL and WYLBUR


For the story of the circle generator, see Cleve's Corner blog, "Sympletic Spacewar".

ETH Zurich, 1965

CDC 1604. First accurate computation of the eigenvalues of the L-shaped membrane. lambda_1 = 9.6397238445. See Cleve's Corner blog, MathWorks Logo.

University of Michigan, 1966 - 1972

IBM 360/67. MTS, Michigan Timesharing System. First interactive demo of matrix computation. Shown to Wallace Givens at Argonne.

Argonne, 1970s

IBM mainframes. TSO, IBM's Time Sharing Option.

Tetronix 4081. First email sent to Jim Pool at DOE. See Cleve's Corner blog, Tektronix 4081.

VAX, 1980s

University of New Mexico. VMS vs. Unix. Early MATLAB.

Intel IPSC, 1985

Commercialization of Caltech Cosmic Cube developed by Chuck Seitz and Geoffery Fox. One board essentially an IBM PC with 80286 CPU, an 80287 math coprocessor, 256K memory. Hypercube interconnect, d5, d6, d7 with 32, 64, 128 nodes. Very basic message passing software.

Ardent TiTan, 1988

Vectorizing Fortran. Doré. MATLAB 3.5 Bundled.

Sun Workstations, 1980s

Published with MATLAB® R2021b

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