There was a time when the word "supercomputer" inspired the same sort of giddy awe that infuses Superman or Superconducting Supercollider. A supercomputer could leap tall buildings in a single bound and peer into the secrets of the universe.
And chief among this race of almost mythical machines was the Cray. Seymour Cray's first computer, the Cray 1, debuted in 1976, and was the embodiment of all the power that crackled around the supercomputer. It weighed 10,500 pounds. Thirty humans were necessary to help install it. And its first users built nuclear weapons: Model No. 1 went to Los Alamos National Laboratory. Eventually Cray sold 80.
I love this description of its capabilities and style from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (which got Cray's third machine):
With the help of newly designed integrated silicon chips, the Cray-1 boasted more memory (one megabyte) and more speed (80 million computations per second) than any other computer in the world. The Cray’s bold look also set the machine apart. Its orange-and-black tower, curved to maximize cooling, was surrounded by a semicircle of padded seats—dubbed an "inverse conversation pit" by one observer—that hid the computer’s power supplies.
One megabyte of memory! 80 million computations per second! Current smartphones blow away that kind of performance.