The Oak Ridge Graphite Reactor, designed for this second purpose, was built in only 11 months. Its job was to show that plutonium could be extracted from irradiated uranium slugs, and its first major challenge was to produce a self-sustaining chain reaction.
Workers began loading uranium into the reactor during the afternoon of Nov. 3, 1943, and progress was swift. Before dawn on Nov. 4, Enrico Fermi was summoned from a nearby guest house. The reactor "went critical" at 5 a.m.; less than two months later, it was producing a third of a ton of irradiated uranium a day. Two months after that, Oak Ridge chemists produced the world's first few grams of plutonium.
During the 20 years the Graphite Reactor operated—from 1943 to 1963—it continued its pioneering role. It produced the first electricity from nuclear energy. It was the first reactor used to study the nature of matter and the health hazards of radioactivity. And for years after the war, it was the world's foremost source of radioisotopes for medicine, agriculture, industry, and other purposes.
This example is why i doubt that a Z pinch or any sustained fusion reactor will ever be put online. Hell, you make a barn fly with enough power, but do we really need flying barns?
All these fusion projects are okay for research, but at some time the delusion that a sustained fusion reaction is practical will overcome by more viable systems. But, let's give it another 60 years to just make sure...