Computer Centre days - to be amplified later, perhaps.

Someone asked about the origins of computing as a subject in Auckland University. This page is based on my reply, originally intended to be read in a context not accessible to you - nor, any more, to me. It seemed a shame to waste it; I hope it makes sense. I've added a few bits as time has gone by which fill in some of the details.

My connection with the university started when I was appointed to a lectureship in the computer centre in 1973. The B6700 was there when I arrived, in the Chemistry building. I never saw the 1130. We moved to the new building across Symonds Street about a year later, I think.

I might have been the first person appointed to a lectureship explicitly to teach computing. I've forgotten the words ( I can find them if anyone's interested ), but it was something like "to lecture on programming to staff and students".

I have a handout, undated but beginning "The University's B6700 has been operating for only six months ...". "Reasonable predictions" of daily usage, in hours, are :

Student exercises 1
Administrative processing1
Research calculations13
Software development1
Outside organisations< 0.5

Our computer also supported the computing carried out at Waikato University; this arrangement certainly lasted for some years, but I can't remember the details.

The same document describes the hardware configuration. ( 60 megabytes of disc, 480 kilobytes of memory, 19 megahertz processor, 66 kilowatt power supply, tape drives, printers, etc. )

We acquired a Prime P400 in 197?, ostensibly to handle the student load.

We bought a Computer Automation Alpha LSI minicomputer in 1975 or so, and developed software for language teaching. It was notorious for its mark-sense card interface, but that was cheap and could be operated by many students in parallel.

We acquired a Dec 10 : it came 1979-80 ( a "free gift" we couldn't refuse; some people had less complimentary descriptions ), and replaced the P400 for student work. It ran Tops-10; we put in a lot of effort on designing and building our own operating system for student computing, but it didn't fly.

The B6700 was eventually "replaced" by an IBM 4341, in 1981. That had 1.7 gigabytes of disc, 4 megabytes of memory, and two magnetic tape drives. It drove around 60 terminals ( intended to increase to 80 ) and five printers, all connected to the 4341 through three IBM Series I support processors, which in effect emulated official IBM terminals but drove our comparatively cheap sort.

About 1976, we offered a collection of computer science courses under the auspices of the "Board of Computer Studies". Under this umbrella, members of the computer centre and departments of mathematics, physics, and electrical ( ? ) engineering combined to provide a set of core courses in computing. Paul Lyons was employed during this time as ( I think ) a temporary part-time assistant lecturer in computer studies; he claims ( or used to claim ) to be the first person appointed by the university explicitly to teach the subject of computing.

I have some sort of documentary evidence for most of these comments ( or I'd have forgotten them ). There is probably more, but it takes time to find. Other people could probably complement this significantly in various ways.

Alan Creak,
2003 June.

Go to me;
Go to Computer Science.