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The IBM Stretch.... Steve Dunwell the the lead architect of this supercomputer starting back in 1956, and was the man who saved and restored the Bardavon Opera House in Poughkeepsie, with his wife Julia... It had been slated to become a parking lot. He let myself and others put on a magic show there around 78 or so... In later (retired) years he operated the Dutchess County Multiple Listing service through his company, Data Center Computer Services, across from IBM Poughkeepsie, where he was still using a large IBM system (not sure what model) around 1987.  He had me do some computer work for him around that time related to the PC.  A few years later, I was involved with a local group called the PCCA (professional computer consultants association) and Steve and his wife Julia were also members of that and came to the meetings.  My impression of him was that he was a genius.   In 1992 he and IBM revealed his efforts in developing a secret computer during world war II that decoded intercepted enemy radio messages. (see page two of the IBM history link)
This view of the STRETCH (IBM 7030 Data Processing System) probably shows the machine in 1960 or early 1961 prior to its shipment from IBM's development facility in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico. The Lab, operated by the University of California for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, acquired the computer for research in nuclear and thermonuclear energy. The operator's console (foreground) was used to control and monitor the system, the central processing unit (foreground) was the computer's heart, and the Exchange (left) provided a new level of efficiency in handling input/output devices -- and was able to control a peak flow of 800,000 characters of information a second.
The Stretch design had its roots in 1954 from initial studies in "advanced concepts" by Stephen Dunwell and Werner Buchholz [Bashe, et al., 1986], and from Nat Rochester's encouragement of Gene Amdahl to design a new high-performance scientific computer after his work on the 704 [Norberg Interview with Amdahl, 1986/1989]. The project started formally after IBM lost an April 1955 bid on a high-performance decimal computer system for the University of California Radiation Laboratory (Livermore Lab). Univac, IBM's competitor and the dominant computer manufacturer at the time, had won the contract to build the 2-megacycle Livermore Automatic Research Computer (LARC) by promising delivery of the requested machine in 29 months. IBM's bid was based on a renegotiation clause for a machine that was four to five times faster than requested, cost $3.5M rather than the requested $2.5M, and proposed delivery in 42 months. In September 1955, IBM proposed a binary computer of "speed at least 100 times greater than that of existing machines" to the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and received formal approval of a $4.3M contract in November 1956 for what would become the Stretch computer. Delivery was slated for 1960.
Gene Amdahl and Stephen Dunwell were major contributors to the proposed design; but, when Dunwell was chosen at the end of 1955 to head the Stretch project with Amdahl assigned a lesser role, Amdahl chose to leave the company. Dunwell recruited Fred Brooks, John Cocke, and Jim Pomerene in the summer of 1956 to join the project, and Harwood Kolsky from LASL joined the team in the summer of 1957. Robert Blosk and Gerrit Blaauw joined IBM in 1953 and 1955, respectively; both joined the Stretch team in 1957.



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