The Connection Machine was the first commercial computer designed expressly to work on simulating intelligence and life. A massively parallel supercomputer with 65,536 processors, it was the brainchild of Danny Hillis, conceived while he was a graduate student under Marvin Minsky at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab. At it’s height, there were 70 installations of the Connection Machine around the world.
Departing from conventional computer architecture of the time, it was modeled on the structure of a human brain: Rather than relying on a single powerful processor to perform calculations one after another, the data was distributed over the tens of thousands of processors, all of which could perform calculations simultaneously. The structures for communication and transfer of data between processors could change as needed depending on the nature of the problem, making the mutability of the connections between processors more important than the processors themselves, hence the name “Connection Machine”.