Artifact Details


The Legacy of Illiac IV

Catalog Number



Moving Image


The Illiac" or ("Illinois Automatic Computer") was a family of computers developed at the University of Illinois from 1952-1968. Illiac I was developed first, at the dawn of the computer age. By comparison, development of the final version, the Illiac IV, began in 1968. It was moved to NASA Ames Research Center after fear of campus anti-war protests—which often focused in computers as tools of the military. Initially commissioned installed at NASA Ames in 1972, it took another three years to come on-line due to technical issues. As is typical with such unique machines, Illiac IV was delivered without a compiler or sophisticated programming tools. However, it was the most powerful supercomputer of its time, with 64 separate processors, exceeding existing machines by a factor of 10 to 20 times on certain tasks like computational fluid dynamics, on-orbit satellite support, image processing and climate modeling.

Starting with the development of a compiler, Illiac IV posed unique challenges for software engineers. Our panel of speakers will be covering the development of tools and applications for Illiac IV throughout its life at NASA Ames. Illiac IV also had an influence beyond its retirement in 1982, affecting further generations of hardware and software.

This talk will take place in The Computer Museum History Center at Moffett Field, a world center for computer history, with over 50 tons of hardware and documentation. Visitors will be surrounded by history, including elements of the Illiac IV: one of its 64 processing units, its one-meter diameter hard disk, and a removable logic unit. Wine and cheese will also be served.




Pulliam, Tom, Speaker
Rogallo, Bob, Speaker
Stevens, Ken, Speaker
Wray, Alan, Speaker


Sun Microsystems

Place of Publication


Identifying Numbers

Other number 20





Copyright Holder

Sun Microsystems


Illiac IV (Computer)

Series Title

Bay Area Computer History Perspectives