10 Most Powerful Computers of All Time


Sure, you overclock your rig to the bleeding edge, direct deposit your paycheck to Newegg, and are on the utility company’s watch list because of the blackouts you’ve been known to cause. Yes, you’re a badass power user, but let’s face it, none of your home-built rigs can touch these 10 beasts. So what if half of these machines only exist in the minds of sci-fi writers – their computational prowess transcends the fiction/reality plane, putting our mighty Petaflop age to shame. Peruse this list for inspiration and then get building, you’ve got some catching up to do before you can compete with the real big boys. We won’t settle until our rigs achieve sentience.


Dr. Who is the original geek cult TV series, beating Star Trek to the small screen by three years, and while Tardis is not the only rig on this list allows for time travel, were suckers for that Time Lord tech, and doubly impressed that the Tardis is grown, not built, making it the ultimate green PC.

9. WABAC machine

Baseball . Nope. A beautiful summer day . No way. The ice cream man . Uh-uh. Nothing, seemingly, was powerful enough to draw kids outside when Rocky and Bullwinkle was on and Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman hopped into the WABAC machine.

8. Holly

Although regularly showing signs of senility due to spending 3 million years on its own, we find Holly’s ability to transform from a middle aged, balding man into a blonde woman a particularly desirous skill for many technophiles.

7. Proteus IV

Talk about packing a load of RAM, no other machine we know of has the power to impregnate Julie Christie!

6. Deep Blue

What could possibly be more boring than watching a chess match? In our book, nothing (that is until someone decides to start broadcasting online poker tournaments). Until that day arrives, chess retains the title of worst spectator sport ever devised. Yet the epic battle between Deep Blue and Gary Kasparov had us rethink this proposition. Deep Blue’s 1997 victory gave us an early view into the mind of our soon-to-arrive computer overlords.


Yes, in fact, we would like to play a game. The WOPR takes us back to a more innocent time when a 2400 baud modem and a bit of ingenuity would allow you to change your grades or play a game of Global Thermonuclear War. And in a game of chess, we’ll take WOPR over entry No. 6 any day.

4. Roadrunner

Roadrunner is a $133 million computer used for classified military projects. Perhaps a $135 million computer will be able to find weapons of mass destruction.

3. HAL

How many conversations between a man and a computer have become cultural touchstones? By our count, one. Even folks who consider sci-fi a sort of geek plague that will instantaneously make you wear your pants three inches too high and utilize a Flowbee for your next haircut know that HAL doesn’t want to open the pod bay doors.

2. Master Control Program

We can think of no other computer powerful enough to cause a grown man to do this:

1. M5 Multitronic System

Yes, Dr. Who was first, but Start Trek remains unquestionably the geek TV touchstone. And while the other machines on this list present a broad range of unique and previously unseen powers, we’re quite confident in our assessment that no other machine could possibly be more powerful than the rig that was powerful enough to power the ship that powered the show that powers a million geeks !

Something we left off the list? Enter your choices in the comments below.

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