NCSA 30 | Timeline
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Thunderstorm visualization debuts at SIGGRAPH

Bob Wilhelmson, NCSA's former Chief Science Officer, had no problem generating simulations that spawn tornadoes. In the late 1980s, however, a wicked thunderstorm that threatened to spawn a tornado was the most computing power at the time would allow. Even that was thrilling, though. "In the 1970s, I had to travel to the National Center for Atmospheric Research. ARPANET access gave me an early look at...

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NCSA’s Cray-2 installed

NCSA now has two Cray supercomputers to meet the rapidly increasing national demand for computational power in a wide range of fields. The Cray-2 system joins the Cray X-MP supercomputer to contribute advances in science, engineering, economics, medicine, the humanities, and other fields. The Cray-2 has a 128 million word memory—sixteen times the memory of the X-MP—and has a peak performance speed of 1.7 billion calculations...

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NCSA's Software Development Group

NCSA releases HDF, Image, and DataScope

Scientific computing can be a messy business. "We were constantly encountering problems of different computing platforms having different data formats," said Mike Folk, who has been with NCSA since 1988. "Scientists also wanted different types of data to all be mixed into a single file." NCSA HDF—a general file format for scientific data management, as well as software for analyzing and converting data—answered the call. Today,...

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John Kogut connected to the Cray X-MP supercomputer

Kogut simulates quantum chromodynamics

Around the halls of NCSA, he was affectionately referred to as "The Sponge." University of Illinois physics professor John Kogut, who had been one of the co-principal investigators on the initial proposal for a supercomputer center, was willing to sop up any unused computing cycles. "John Kogut and his group used half of the original supercomputer," explained Larry Smarr, NCSA's first director. "It was a two-processor...

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NCSA Telnet

Center releases NCSA Telnet

The way researchers--and everyday people--use computational resources is often as important as the resources themselves. "NCSA had a workstation support group since well before I got here," said Mike Folk, who has been at the center since 1988. "Workstation support means updating your virus check program now. At the time, though, it meant helping the scientists at the local level. It was a very big...

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NCSA Private Sector Program Wall St. Journal ad

Industrial Program begins

From the earliest days, NCSA's leadership saw the power of working with industry-leading corporations. Close partnerships guaranteed that the technologies emerging from the center and the expertise that made its home at the center would be applied to real-world challenges. In the spring of 1986, the center kicked off its Industrial Partners program with a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal. By August, the...

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Larry Smarr with Cray X-MP

NCSA opens to national user community

NCSA opened its doors to the national scientific computing community in January 1986. Since then, the bottom line has always been helping researchers get their work done and propel science toward its next discovery. In celebration of that 20 year history, NCSA has assembled a history of the center, its users, and the accomplishments they've made together....

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