Project Athena began in 1983 as an attempt to create a coherent computing system across a variety of types of workstations and locations.   Early labs, as shown here, were called "clusters".
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  • Athena contributed to the early Pixar efforts (perhaps before they were Pixar?) I remember seeing Project Athena credited at the end of one or two of the animations. They just celebrated their 25th anniversary The article notes other Athena contributions such as Kerberos


    12 Feb 09 at 1:26 pm

  • Athena was important not only in the distributed computing resources it provided for the MIT community, but also in its contributions to computing at large. The most notable contributions are probably the X Windows system, the windowing system foundation for most Unix/Linux distributions, and Kerberos authentication, used by Windows, Mac OS X, and again many Unix/Linux distributions.


    14 Feb 09 at 9:35 pm

  • Athena was certainly a milestone. It is almost comical now days to think that students were limited to 1 Megabyte of RAM at the start of the project.

    Alexander Arauz

    16 Jul 09 at 1:34 am

  • At the beginning of Project Athena, there was no way to limit memory usage — the mechanisms for doing so didn’t exist. Disk space was initially limited to a megabyte because we didn’t have enough of the “big” 400 Meg disks.

    I ran into Sam Leffler (then at Pixar, but originally one of the BSD developers) at a SigGraph in 1985 and he told me that they were using the “at” mechanism to run niced-down background tasks on the majority of Athena’s machines to do the rendering for the first Pixar shorts. I think “Andre and Wally B.” was one of them.

    Some research on the meaning of “network” would have to be done before the right qualifiers on “first” can be chosen, but Athena was also one of the first, if not *the* first campus-wide packet-switch networks, something every university, government, business, and economic region (not to mention the entire world) now take for granted.

    That something called “Athena” still exists at MIT after 26 years is amazing.

    David G. Grubbs

    24 Nov 09 at 10:43 pm

  • I think Athena is a poroject tht defined MIT.


    6 Aug 10 at 2:45 pm