Is there a word that specifically means or makes reference to a computer that was once considered a super computer in its time, but due to rapid technological advancements, is no longer considered one?

Edit: aparrently not. I say we make one.

  • 4
    I would still call it a super computer. I would just qualify it by saying that it is hardly considered one. e.g. "This super computer from the '80s has one-third the processing power of a modern cellphone - making it not-so-super by today's standards."
    – Adam
    Mar 12, 2011 at 5:10
  • 1
    As a side comment, supercomputer is usually written without space or hyphen.
    – F'x
    Mar 12, 2011 at 12:12
  • 2
    @advs89 +1 I'm with you; a supercomputer is always a supercomputer, same as a supercar is always a supercar, no matter how poorly it performs relative to modern supercars.
    – Carl Smith
    Dec 8, 2014 at 18:56

7 Answers 7


I am unaware of a specific word or phrase that indicates the aged item is specifically a now-dated computer. However, when describing something old and "of another time," I often fall back on the following noun and adjective...

  • Relic - the ENIAC is a relic of supercomputers from days of vacuum-tubes and mercury-delay line memory.
  • Antiquated - at my university there sits an antiquated Cray I supercomputer, which at one time was the world's fastest.
  • 4
    I often hear 'dinosaur' to describe both computers and software that are well beyond their prime.
    – oosterwal
    Mar 12, 2011 at 14:05

You could simply call such a computer obsolete.

obsolete no longer produced or used; out of date : the disposal of old and obsolete machinery [NOAD]

  • 1
    Specifically, the phrase "obsolete supercomputer" works perfectly and without confusion.
    – MrHen
    Mar 17, 2011 at 18:13

You could refer to "legacy" equipment (or code, for that matter; although legacy code most often runs on legacy equipment): a system that was generally big, powerful and impressive when purchased, which is now old and expensive to maintain, but is running some critical software or performing some critical function that for a variety of reasons the company is unwilling to move away from.


You might use "antique" (in the noun usage).

The implication of great age might be seen as slightly ironic, but it makes it clear that we are not talking about something current.

  • 1
    Also in the adjective usage, surely? If you wanted to simply refer to the computer in passing — not making a big deal about the issue, but at the same time making clear that it once was a supercomputer but now no longer is — then “an antique supercomputer” seems a pretty effective way to do it.
    – PLL
    Mar 12, 2011 at 5:31

Perhaps just "computer"?

Often these devices are referred to by their brand or manufacturer names, that positions their once advanced nature but also allows reference to the fact that other technologies have now superseded them.

For example, the "Cray 1" will always be the "Cray 1", despite IBM's "Blue gene" computing platform being many orders of magnitude more powerful. the same fate will ultimately befall "Blue Gene" but it will still be referred to as Blue Gene".


You could use the term (see here)

mainframe computer

instead, which does suggest that the computer is big, but not necessarily super in terms of speed and memory by current standards.


Common nomenclature in computing is legacy machines or legacy hardware. The term legacy is used generically for systems that have been superseded by modern approaches or systems.

When the legacy system is still in use, the term has the connotation of something that was inherited from a previous era. A colloquial example of such things is e.g. the banking sector, where virtual machines and emulation have allowed them to maintain legacy software that was written for PDP-15 machines in the 1970s. Engineering virtual PDP-15 machines was, long-term, more economical than maintaining the legacy hardware.

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