That is Cray: photographer documents the building of a supercomputer in 1986


When we think of supercomputers, we forget that there are real men and women who painstakingly put these extraordinary machines together, one wire at a time. In a new exhibit at Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center entitled, “Lee Friedlander: The Cray Photographs,” you can get a glimpse of the people and town that put Cray supercomputers together in 79 black-and-white photographs shot by Lee Friedlander.

Known for his “straight-forward documentation of ordinary things,” according to the museum’s announcement about the exhibit, Friedlander was invited by the former top supercomputer producer Cray Research in 1986 to capture its company in photos for a book celebrating its 15th anniversary.

Cray’s founder, Seymour Cray, was born in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, which is why his company’s research and manufacturing facilities were based in the small Midwestern town. The famed American photographer took a series of photos that juxtaposed small town living with the high-tech work that Cray employees were doing inside the company headquarters.


As you can see in these sample photos from the exhibit, Friedlander hardly romanticized what it was like to work in the high-tech industry of building supercomputers 27-years ago. Back in the day, supercomputers were taller than people and looked like an endless mess of wires. According to New Scientist, Cray supercomputers were known for, “[being] cylindrical towers to shorten wires – coaxing [the] machines to clock up unprecedented speeds.”

The photographer seemed particularly fascinated by the women with suburban hairstyles that worked at Cray, who were chosen by the founder to wire these gigantic supercomputers for their “dexterity and talent in weaving and other fabric crafts,” according to the Cantor Arts Center.


You can relive a bit of American high-tech history that preceded Silicon Valley by visiting this exhibit at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. The “Lee Friedlander: The Cray Photographs” exhibit opened March 27 and will close June 16.


Midrange phones can’t do A.I., but MediaTek’s P90 chip aims to change that

MediaTek has announced the Helio P90 mobile processor, which it says will bring the best A.I. features we see on high-end smartphones, to the mid-range. We spoke to the company about the chip.
Smart Home

Espresso On Demand: The five best Nespresso machines

Most people still trek down to their local coffee shop to get an espresso or a cappuccino, but you don't have to. A Nespresso machine can put coffee shop quality espresso on your kitchen counter.

The Galaxy S10 may be announced before MWC, sell for up to $1,750

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.

Relive Nintendo’s handheld golden age with the 25 best Game Boy Advance games

The Game Boy Advance was the swan song of the Game Boy era. It also happened to have a boatload of amazing games. We decided to countdown our 25 favorite GBA games. Check it out and let us know your favorites in the comments below!
Home Theater

Confused about LED vs. LCD TVs? Here's everything you need to know

Our LED vs. LCD TV buying guide explains why these two common types of displays are fundamentally connected, how they differ, what to look for in buying an LED TV, and what's on the horizon for TVs.

Canada’s winters inspired a startup to warm homes with cryptomining heat waste

Cryptomining may be the key to untold riches and the future of currency, but it’s also an environmental nightmare. Heatmine, thinks it has the answer, but it could mean bolting a mining rig onto every home and business in the country.
Product Review

The Asus ZenBook 14 is a tiny notebook that gets lost in the crowd

The ZenBook 14 aims to be the smallest 14-inch notebook around, and it succeeds thanks to some tiny bezels. Performance and battery life are good, but the notebook lacks a standout feature other than size.

The best MacBook deals for December 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.

How to connect AirPods to your MacBook

If you have new AirPods, you may be looking forward to pairing them with your MacBook. Our guide will show you exactly how to connect AirPods to MacBook, what to do if they are already paired with a device, and more.

Hitting ‘Check for updates’ in Windows 10 opts you into beta releases

Users who are careful about keeping their system updated should watch out -- Microsoft revealed this week that clicking the Check for updates button in Windows can opt you in to testing beta code.

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

Excel documents are used by people and businesses all over the world. Given how often they contain sensitive information, it makes sense to keep them from the wrong eyes. Thankfully, it's easy to secure them with a password.

Which Macs are compatible with MacOS Mojave?

Is your computer ready for Apple's big Mojave update? Here's what you need to know about MacOS Mojave compatibility, what Macs can successful download Mojave, and the requirements you need to know about.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Change your mouse cursor in Windows with these quick tips

The standard mouse cursor is boring, so change it! With this guide on how to change your mouse cursor in Windows, you can choose to use one of Microsoft's pre-installed cursors or download something a bit more extravagant.