Mainframe and Supercomputer Museum

€750 of €25,000 goal

Raised by 7 people in 16 months
Help us realise a computer museum in the east of the Netherlands.

The money donated will go towards the acquisition and restoration of old supercomputers and mainframes, and the realisation of a museum centered around these important historical artefacts. Camiel Vanderhoeven started collecting old computers early on in life, and now the focus is mainly on 1960s-1990s supercomputers and mainframes, the behemoths that represent the pinnacle of technological achievement in electronics.

The collection currently consists - besides many smaller systems - Convex , Digital Equipment , Intel , Ardent , and Silicon Graphics supercomputers, as well as parts of Cray and CDC supercomputers and parts of IBM , Burroughs, ICL , and Univac mainframes. It's housed in the barn of an old farmhouse. More information about the collection can be found at vaxbarn.com.

While these systems are generally so old that they change hands for no or little money, transporting them costs real money. Restoring them to working order sometimes requires expensive parts, and running them for any length of time requires a lot of electricity. Finally, the collection is becoming too large for its current location, so we're looking to rent a space for it that would also be suitable to open the collection to the public as a museum.

Your support will make it possible to showcase what the bleeding edge of computer technology used to look like, and will help provide an important educational resource.

In return, we will be glad to arrange for you a private tour of the collection (even before the museum has been realised), and publicly show our appreciation for your gift.

Make sure to check the updates, as we'll post some information about the campaign, and about items in the collection there regularly.
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After the success of the Convex C1, Convex developed the C2, a faster version of the processor, delivering up to 100 MFLOPs. Around these, they built multiprocessor systems with up to 4 CPUs, ranging in price from around 600,000 USD to 2,500,000 USD.

Unlike the C1, the C2 uses ECL logic, which requires a lot of power. The collection has both a 2 processor C220, and a 4 processor C240, drawing 12 and 20 KW of power respectively.

As of today, our C220 is up and running, and has ConvexOS 11.5.1 installed. We intend to use this system for demonstrations in the museum, and we should have enough spare parts to keep it going for a while.

After the C2, Convex developed the C3800, the world's first supercomputer using Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) for it's circuitry. By this time however, the industry was starting to move away from big, expensive vector processors, towards massively parallel systems.

Convex developed the Exemplar SPP systems, built around HP's PA-RISC processor as their entry into the massively parallel market, and was acquired by HP shortly after that. The legacy of the SPP systems lives on in the HP Superdome systems of today.
C220, C240, and I/O cabinets
C240 CPU
I/O Cabinets
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Yesterday saw the arrival of a large machine from Germany, a Convex C240, along with the I/O cabinets of the C220 which arrived a few weeks ago, and three pallets of spare parts. Probably around 4000 kg (9000 lbs) in total!
C240 CPU
Some of the I/O cabinets
Filling up the barn
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In 1982, when Cray Research was still solidly holding the supercomputer performance crown with the Cray 1 (and later the X-MP), the Convex Computer Corporation was formed in Texas. Their goal: to build the fastest computer available under 1 million dollars.

Their first product, the C1, released in 1985, was very similar to the Cray-1, centered around a massive vector processor. Using less exotic hardware techniques, it delivered about 1/4 of the performance of a Cray at 1/10th the price, which hit a sweet spot with many research institutes and big corporations.

Convex was the first of a long list of minisupercomputer manufacturers, and one of the longest lived ones.

The collection has 2 C1's: a full-blown C1 XP, and a smaller C1 XL. The C1 XP appears to be fully operational after a number of repairs made, but is lacking an operating system.

C1 Logo
Convex C1 XP
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Cray Research' Cray-1 (1975, ca. 8,000,000 US$) is probably the most well-known supercomputer. There is no Cray-1 in the collection - although we would love to acquire one of the 80+ that were built of course - but we do have some Cray-1 parts; a plug-in module, consisting of two very thin circuit boards with ECL logic, with a copper heatsink sandwiched between them; and a lucite paperweight containing an ECL chip and a piece of wire from a Cray-1.
Cray 1 Circuit Board
Cray 1 Connector
Cray 1 Components
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€750 of €25,000 goal

Raised by 7 people in 16 months
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