Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

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The Stanford Artifical Intelligence Laboratory (often known as the Stanford AI Lab, or SAIL for short) was an influential early computer science research organization, at Stanford University.

It was founded in 1963 by John McCarthy, and was initially housed in the D. C. Power building (named after a person, Donald Clinton Power, not D. C. power), located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, over the campus.

In 1980, SAIL was shut down as an independent institution; the remains of the Lab were merged into Stanford's Computer Science Department. The remnants moved out of the famed D. C. Power building, leaving CCRMA behind, and moved into the CS Department's location in Margaret Jacks Hall on the main campus.

SAIL was re-opened as an independent entity in 2004.

Although focused on AI work, on which it achieved much, SAIL made a number of significant contributions to computer science generally; one was that SAIL was the first institution which provided a video terminal in everyone's office. (Several SAIL alumni were part of the revolution in user interfaces at Xerox PARC.) Another notable one was one of the very first CAD systems, SUDS, done as part of the later-terminated Superfoonly project at SAIL.

Computing resources

Throughout most of its early life, SAIL principally used DEC PDP-10 machines, running their own WAITS time-sharing operating system. They started with a PDP-6; later, a KA10 was added (eventually equipped with a BBN Pager); finally a KL10 (received in trade for the design engineering for the Superfoonly, which became the basis of the KL10) became the main machine.

File repository

From 1972 to 1990, the files on the SAIL PDP-10 were regularly backed up onto magnetic tapes, which were carefully saved and stored. By the end of SAIL's (first) life, these amounted to almost 3,000 low-density, 7-track tapes. These were carefully copied onto a final set of 229 reels of high-density 9-track magnetic tape, in a project that completed in 1990. In 1998, the contents were copied again, onto other media, and a project, SAILDART, was started to make them publicly available over the Internet. SAILDART is "a digital archive promulgating records from SAIL"; it is now available (see links below).

External links