Working Ardent Titan on Youtube

Camiel Vanderhoeven camiel.vanderhoeven at
Sun Nov 25 08:42:53 CST 2018

Now that my mousepad problem has been solved, and I have a fully working Ardent Titan with some interesting software on it – the bundled version of MATLAB, and BIOGRAF, a molecular modeling application – I decided to make a short video about this system in which I show the hardware and demonstrate some of the software:


For those who haven’t heard of the system; the 1987 Ardent Titan (later renamed the Stardent 1500) was the first system that combined vector processors (as in a Cray-like architecture) and a graphics engine on the same backplane, and was the highest-performing graphics supercomputer for a short while. In the end, however, a longer than planned time to market and a forced merger with Stellar Computer caused the premature demise of the company.


Cleve Moler, the inventor of MATLAB, worked at Ardent for three years, which is one of the reasons the Titan was the only computer ever to come with MATLAB as part of its bundled software. As I found out later – after creating this video – the version of MATLAB on the Titan was unique, because it included a “render” command, which would plot a 3D surface using the Doré graphics library. On other platforms, MATLAB could only render mesh plots. It wasn’t until 1992 that the mainstream version of MATLAB gained 3D surface rendering.


Cleve wrote a number of articles on his blog about the Titan, one of which ( describes how the Titan was used to create a video of a vibrating L-shaped membrane. With a little help from Cleve, I’m trying to recreate this video. A first effort – which isn’t quite right yet – can be seen here:


I hope some of you enjoy these!





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