The rise and fall of Silicon Graphics

Clark founded Silicon Graphics Inc on the 9th of November in 1981, and he left Stanford early in 1982 to pursue building the company full time with just $25000 in funding (around $85000 in 2024) from a friend and the contents of his own accounts. Accompanying Clark in this adventure were Kurt Akeley, Dave Brown, Tom Davis, Mark Grossman, Marc Hannah, Herb Kuta, Rocky Rhodes, and Abbey Silverstone. While SGI knew they would deal in computers outfitted with a powerful GPU, they did not know precisely what else those computers should feature. As a result, Clark asked potential customers what they’d like to see in a workstation. While at least one potential customer was interested in VMS, NASA’s new Advanced Supercomputing division was very interested in UNIX and they were willing to pay. The division’s director at the time spoke with Clark, and (verbally) committed to purchasing at least eighteen workstations in their first order.

↫ Bradford Morgan White

SGI machines are by far the most sought-after and most expensive of the retro UNIX workstation market today, with machines still netting thousands of euros, even for damaged or less than ideal examples. IRIX is probably also the dead UNIX with the most active fanbase, still releasing software and updates to this very day.

An SGI machine is high on my list, and writing an article about using IRIX today is something I’ve been wanting to do for decades. Sadly, the odds of finding one that’s both affordable and shippable to the Arctic part of Sweden – especially now that OSNews is my full-time job and I’m dependent on Patreons and donations – are very, very slim.


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