Abercrombie Lab is the site of an historic development, the home-made R1 computer authorized in 1957 and built between 1958 and 1961 in a 25-square-foot area. Supported by grants from the Atomic Energy Commission and Shell Oil Company, the computer is powered by 3,000 vacuum tubes and requires 15 tons of air-conditioning to dissipate the heat generated by its operations. R1 is described as the largest, fastest university computer when it begins operation in 1961. It serves as a model for basic computer design research and a valuable research tool for many departments. Although its basic technology is obsolete before R1 is fully online, R1 remains in use for a decade. It is dismantled in 1971.
Visit Adam Thornton's page, A Brief History of the Rice Computer, to learn more about the R1.