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2017 Issue 2: The Technology Issue

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From the archives: Queen's Computing circa 1968

From the archives: Queen's Computing circa 1968

[computers in 1968]
Queen's University Archives V102-2-145 Wallace R Berry Fonds

The Queen's Computing Centre circa 1968.

In 1966, Queen’s bought its first big mainframe computer, an IBM 360, model 40, and installed it in newly opened Dupuis Hall. John Coleman, head of mathematics, prophetically told Principal Alex Corry that the 360 marked “an extremely important” moment in Queen’s history. Computing thus became a centralized university function staffed by highly skilled operators. IBM-trained Mers Kutt, an early director of the computing centre, would, for instance, go on to a distinguished career as a pioneer of the personal computer.

The 1960s brought two new realizations. Computers were quickly recognized as useful facilitators of research. Not only could the IBM mainframe manipulate raw data into variable outcomes, but it could also store that data. The IBM 360, for example, could store up to 128 kilobits of data, less than a fraction of the size of a modern mp3. By the late 1960s, it was common to see professors and students queuing outside Dupuis Hall for processing time. Eighty per cent of the processing on the 360 was done by punch card submission of data.

Read more about the history of computing…

[cover of Queen's Alumni Review, Issue 2, 2017]