Jim Kirkpatrick's history of central computing at the University of Wyoming

This is a history of central computing at the University of Wyoming. For the most part it does not deal with departmental computing, such as small systems that individual departments/colleges may have purchased. This is partly by intent to keep this history focused; but it is also due to a lack of information on such systems.

In writing any history, it is difficult to avoid bias, or to avoid a particular slant or focus. I will not try too hard to avoid such pitfalls, as a significant percentage of the information will be drawn from personal recollection.

Other sources include a six-page history written in about 1972, possibly by Dr. Stanley K. Brown (original here; the division newsletter, started in 1969 and sadly (silently) retired around 1992; and conversations with fellow employees and users "who were there". The 1972 history was written in the sense of an official history, complete with descriptions of the purpose of the University and how important computing services are in helping UW accomplish its goals and commitments. The present history takes a bit more of a relaxed approach. I'll simply try to describe what happened.

Because I came to UW in 1969 as a student, not much is personally known of computing prior to that time. The older information presented here is mostly from sources other than personal recollections. Also, I worked primarily in the academic arena, which explains the relative lack of coverage of administrative computing.

For purposes of organization, this history is divided into eras delineated by changes in the primary academic computer. Future histories will have some problems with this, since computing is now distributed over a wide range of platforms, and we may never again see the huge changes that occurred in the past. It should also be noted that most of the eras correspond with the hiring of a new division director.

I will intersperse personal recollections and stories within the history. To distinguish these stories/ramblings from real history, I'll keep the true "stuffy" history in a bold font, with the stories and anecdotes in a smaller font. In fact, these stories have overwhelmed the plain history!

The Early Era: The Bendix G-15 and IBM 1620

The Philco Era

The Sigma Era

The Cyber Era

IBM makes an entrance

The VMS Era

Long-term Perspectives, gripes, and soap-boxing