Celebrating 150: Welcoming the Computer

Workers install the University’s first computer system in Violette Hall in September 1966. This photo originally appeared in the Index and is courtesy of the Pickler Memorial Library Special Collections Department.

With more than 900 computers across campus available for general student use, it can be difficult to imagine a time before the prominence of technology. A seminal moment in the University history of embracing technology came in 1966 with the installation of an IBM computer on campus.  

According to the Index, the IBM 1440 computer was intended to be used “to facilitate the administration of the College and to supplement instruction in certain academic areas.” The Data Processing Center, located in Violette Hall 200, had staff available “to assist in the administration of the College and to facilitate academic use of the computer.” Several math and business education courses made use of the machine.

Among the features of the IBM 1440 was its processing unit which could “add 4,000 five-digit numbers in one second and can store 8,000 alphabetic and numeric characters in its core store unit.” The machine also had two disk-storage drives, and the Index article noted “Disk packs can be interchanged on these drives and removed easily thus providing unlimited storage. Each disk pack holds nearly 3 million characters of data that can be read and completely written in approximately three minutes. Information from disk storage is accessible in milliseconds.”