NCAR becomes Cray Research’s first customer

In 1974, the outlook for computational capability beyond NCAR's Control Data Corporation (CDC) 7600 was not good. Existing computers did not have the performance capabilities needed by the weather and climate modeling communities. Two NCAR staff members made a visit to Cray Research, founded two years previously by Semour Cray, and were impressed by the simple and visionary design of his only-partially-built new supercomputer. On July 11, 1977, the CRAY-1A, serial number 3, was delivered to NCAR, making the organization Cray Research's first official customer. The supercomputer weighed five and a half tons, arrived in two refrigerated electronic vans, and needed more than 30 people to move it into the computer room. The CRAY-1A was particularly adapted to the needs of the atmospheric science community, permitting advances in modeling climate and severe storms.