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Title: Purchasing Power: Rivalry, Dissent, and Computing Strategy in Supercomputer Selection at Los Alamos

In the mid-1960s, the Laboratory at Los Alamos, a center of scientific computing since the Manhattan Project, embarked on a search for a new supercomputer intended to fulfill the growing need for computing power in nuclear weapons development. Although depicted at Los Alamos in later years as a smooth transition between vendors, the selection process was a contentious negotiation among computing experts and users over their differing visions of computing and its place at Los Alamos. Here, this paper argues that changing technical and political demands on weapons design, and Los Alamos' place in the rivalry between IBM and Control Data Corporation, further complicated the selection process, and challenged the traditional control and direction Los Alamos' computing strategy. The result was the formation of a new computing division, and a reframing of the debate over the long-standing management and purpose of computing at Los Alamos.
  1. Univ. of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1058-6180
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
IEEE Annals of the History of Computing
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: IEEE Annals of the History of Computing; Journal ID: ISSN 1058-6180
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
97 MATHEMATICS AND COMPUTING; Computer Science; Computational modeling; History; Supercomputers; Object recognition; Nuclear weapons
OSTI Identifier: