The CDC6600 and its family members are part of the computer industry history. A decade before the Cray 1, the members of the CDC6000 family were not only expensive and the most powerful systems at the time of introduction. They were also lean and wonderful architectures ! The elegance was also conveyed in several publications (many by CDC), where all the necessary knowledge was explained from the ground up. All you needed to know was supplied, clearly laid out, not just hints for efficient programming. Basically, you could rebuild your own computer by reading these books. 50 years later, they are invaluable reminders and tools, we can see where the computer industry comes from and realise that it is not that hard to do it ourselves, too.
Via HackerNews. This is an amazing resource.
The CDC was a little bit before my time. At Uni I used DEC KL10s fronted by older ICL1904s for I/O support, ie card scanners and line printers and programmed in Algol60, BCPL, Fortran and esp lovely Asm etc.
Not long after graduating I heard rumors of a KL10 in a suitcase, some company other than DEC had reduced a large room of ECL hardware into a custom chip. Today this would be almost a trivial exercise for any computer architect graduate with FPGAs, but the software, what would be interesting enough to run on it.
The other thing to appreciate is code size, today I notice that several Mac apps like iTunes, Acrobat Reader are in the 100s of MB of code, while back in the day, the entire mainframe memory would have been a MB or so if that, and possibly not even semiconductor, ie ferro core or wire etc. Even the large platter drives might only have stored a few MB each.
Knowing all this sort of now holds me back, I can’t stomach to think why code is so bloated, what is going on, is it all just 512^2 pixel maps to make it look darn pretty.