This is an outdated history of PrimeGrid. I hope over the next two weeks, with your help, to bring it more up-to-date. It is “fluid” description based on bits and pieces I gathered in the forum. For those who have excellent memories, deft detective skills, or simply the time to research, please PM me with your suggestions, improvements, corrections, etc. or post in the PG History & Milestone discussion thread.
PrimeGrid is a volunteer computing project searching for world record prime numbers. It is built on the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) platform. It utilizes the spare CPU cycles of your computer that would otherwise go unused. Combine your CPU power with that of thousands of other computers around the world, and you have a very powerful prime finding “computer”. Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can participate.
PrimeGrid's primary goal is to bring the excitement of prime finding to the “everyday” computer user. By simply downloading/installing BOINC and attaching to the PrimeGrid project, users can choose from a variety of prime forms to search. With a little patience, you may find a large prime or even a record prime and enter into Chris Caldwell's The Largest Known Primes Database as a Titan! :)
On 12 June 2005, at approximately 14:00 UTC, Message@Home (now PrimeGrid) opened account creation to 50 users. It was being run on Rytis’ home laptop. :)
Message@Home was developed as a test project for PerlBOINC, an attempt to implement the BOINC server system in the Perl programming language in order to bring BOINC server software to Windows. With the primary focus on PerlBOINC, a project was needed that provided a short WU with a standard consistent result.
The first project was Message7, and it attempted by “brute-force” to recover a message encoded with the md5 algorithm. The message was split into parts of 7 symbols of length, and each part was encoded with md5.
In August 2005, the RSA 640 Factoring Challenge application was added. Similar to Message7, this was an attempt by “brute-force” to factor the 640 digit RSA number. The Message7 application was discontinued.
On 1 September 2005, after a short contest to select a new project name, the PrimeGrid name was chosen from a variation of PrimeGrid@Home submitted by Heffed. He was awarded 999 cobblestones for his submission. :)
By November 2005, another effort factored the RSA 640 Challenge so PrimeGrid moved on to the RSA 768 Factoring Challenge. While the chances of solving the challenge remained infinitesimally small, it allowed for further development of PerlBOINC.
In March 2006, RSA 768 Factoring was abandoned for a new application, primegen. It was an attempt to build a sequential prime number database bringing PrimeGrid for the first time to the “prime finding” arena. The secondary goal was to also use this to help with the RSA Factoring Challenges. However, it was soon revealed that this effort too had an infinitesimally small chance of succeeding. Nevertheless, it “provided a short WU with a standard consistent result” which “allowed for further development of PerlBOINC”. However, the search for a “computing-time worthy” application was started.
In June 2006, dialog started with Riesel Sieve to bring their project to the BOINC community. Rytis provided PerlBOINC support and RS was successful in implementing their sieve as well as a prime finding (LLR) application. With collaboration from RS, PrimeGrid was able to implement the LLR application in partnership with another prime finding project, Twin Prime Search. In November 2006, the TPS LLR application was officially released at PrimeGrid. Less than two months later, January 2007, the record twin was found by the original manual project. PrimeGrid and TPS then advanced their search for even larger twin primes.
The summer of 2007 was very active as the Cullen and Woodall prime searches were launched. In the Fall, more prime searches were added through partnerships with the Prime Sierpinski Problem and 321 projects. Additionally, two sieves were added: the Prime Sierpinski Problem combined sieve which includes supporting the Seventeen or Bust sieve; and the combined Cullen/Woodall sieve.
In the Fall of 2007, PrimeGrid migrated some of its systems from PerlBOINC to standard BOINC software. However, many of the services still remain based on PerlBOINC.
To date, PrimeGrid has directly discovered 6 mega primes, 3 Fermat Number divisors, and over 4000 titanic primes. Additionally, it has found several Arithmetic Progression records and has advanced the PSP and SoB combined sieve by over a decade.
The immediate future direction of PrimeGrid involves adding... :)