A HALF-CENTURY OF COMPUTING AT BYU
By Peter B. Gardner, '98
Over the past 50 years, computers at BYU have risen from big and basic to quick and compact, culminating in BYU's five supercomputers.
1952 | BYU purchases an IBM 602-A calculator for use in the treasurers office. The calculator can add, subtract, multiply, divide, and perform 200 calculations per second.
1953 | BYU offers its first class in machine accounting.
1953 | IBM ships its first electronic computer, the 701.
July 1953 | IBM releases the 650 Magnetic Drum Data Processing Machine, its first commercial business computer. The nearly 3-ton machine becomes famous for its adaptability and many blinking lights.
1955 | BYUs Data Processing Department is created.
1958 | BYU announces its acquisition of an electronic brain, a rented IBM 650. The computer can perform 700 calculations per second.
1960 | BYU purchases an IBM 650 and creates the Computer Research Center in the basement of the new Jesse Knight Humanities Building.
1961 | The first integrated circuit on a chip is introduced.
1961 | The Department of Engineering Sciences purchases a Bendix G15 for college computing.
1963 | Leading computer technician Gary Carlson joins BYU.
1963 | BYU leases a 9-ton IBM 7040 mainframe computer for administrative and academic research computing. It can perform 62,000 calculations per second.
1964 | A prototype is created for the computer mouse, which would not be used widely until the release of the Apple Macintosh in 1984.
1964 | BYU finds itself in the national spotlight for its annual IBM dance, where couples are matched according to preferences by a computer, after the program lined up a brother/sister date.
1965 | A program on the IBM 7040 out-prognosticates sports writers and coaches on sporting events.
1967 | Two Librascope L-3055s are acquired for the Department of Physics and the College of Engineering Sciences.
1968 | BYU computer science course enrollments increase 1,000 percent since 1963, 20 times faster than university enrollment growth over the same period.
1968 | BYU purchases a massive IBM 360/50 mainframe for administrative and research use. It can perform some 500,000 calculations per second.
1969 | BYUs Computer Science Department is created.
1971 | IBM creates the first floppy diskette, an 8-inch data-storage medium.
1971 | BYUs IBM 360/50 is moved to a 4,000 square-foot, climate-controlled room in the newly completed Talmage Building. Some 40 terminals around campus make remote access possible.
1972 | Home video and arcade games hit the market with the release of the Magnavox Odyssey and the Atari Pong, respectively.
1972 | BYU begins implementing computer registration, allowing students to mail in class requests to be processed by the computer.
1973 | BYU begins using DEC-10 and IBM 7030 Stretch computers for research and educational purposes.
1973 | BYU upgrades the IBM 360/50 to an IBM 360/65, which can perform 1.25 million calculations a second.
1974 | BYU purchases a Microdata minicomputer for use in the BYU Bookstore.
1974 | BYU programmer Gwen Wiser creates a program for BYU football defensive coach Tom Ramage to analyze opposing teams play calling. The program would later be adopted by the rest of the football coaching staff.
1975 | By mid-1975, BYU had approximately 30 minicomputers in departments across campus, making administration and research more efficient.
1976 | BYU civil engineering professors Henry N. Christiansen and Michael B. Stephenson license MOVIE-BYU, an inexpensive program for rendering 3-D images. It would be used by thousands of research laboratories, universities, and government organizations.
1977 | BYU buys two Apple IIes, two TRS-80s, and two Commodore PETs, newly released desktop computers, for testing.
1979 | BYU professor Alan Ashton and BYU grad Bruce Bastian incorporate Satellite Software International, later WordPerfect.
1980 | The first laser discs are developed by Philips.
1981 | The IBM PC is released.
1983 | Based on BYU-created library programming, a team of former BYU staff and grads James Wilson, Paul Sybrowski, Keith Wilson, and Ralph Egan create DYNIX, now the worlds largest library-automation company.
1984 | BYU creates the nations first computerized Touch Tone-phone-registration system, making registration quick and available anywhere.
1984 | Sony announces the first 3 1/2-inch floppy drives and diskettes.
1984 | Philips and Sony introduce the CD-ROM.
1985 | Elrond, a computer-aided instruction program, teaches Computer Science 103, an introductory course in computing.
1986 | The Harold B. Lee Librarys circulation, ordering, and post-1978 catalog listings go online with the Brigham Young Libraries Information Network (BYLINE).
1986 | BYU licenses its WordCruncher program, developed by James S. Rosenvall and Monte F. Shelly of the Department of Instructional Applications Services. The program makes it possible to search large texts for specific words or phrases and is used by many publishers to create electronic texts.
1989 | IBM and BYU team up to study how supercomputers can increase the efficiency of BYU software applications in engineering optimization and advanced computer graphics. BYU is granted use of an IBM 3090.
1990 | The World Wide Web is born when Tim Berners-Lee develops Hypertext Markup Language (HTML).
1993 | BYU assistant professor of computer science Phillip J. Windley sets up BYUs first Web server.
1994 | Kiosk workstations are placed across campus, giving students access to many campus services.
1994 | BYU launches its first official home page.
1997 | BYU begins offering its first Internet course: Religion C 324, Doctrine and Covenants.
1997 | E-mail addresses and access to the Internet are made available for free to all BYU students through Route Y.
1998 | BYU decommissions its last mainframe computer, an IBM 3090 400e, in part to become Y2K compliant.
1999 | Students are able to register on the Internet. Touch Tone-phone registration would be entirely phased out in 2001.
1999 | Ira Fulton donates Mary Lou, a SGI Onyx2 Origin 2000 supercomputer. Within the year, the computer is upgraded twice to hold 112 processors, 60 gigabytes of RAM, and about 1.75 terabytes of hard-drive space. It is upgraded again in 2003.
2000 | BYU adopts the Blackboard online course-management program, allowing faculty to create class Web pages to facilitate teaching and learning.
2000 | Mary Lou 1 and Mary Lou 2 supercomputers are purchased; they are upgraded in spring 2002.
2001 | An IBM SP-2 supercomputer is purchased; it is upgraded and expanded in 2002.
2001 | Using a $200,000 Pew Grant, BYU English faculty redesign English 115 to be a hybrid course, taught part in class and part online.
2001 | A BYU independent-study course is developed to be taken using a personal digital assistant (PDA). It is believed to be the first independent-study course ever created for a PDA.
2002 | PACE, a consortium of auto and technology companies GM, EDS, and Sun Microsystems, gives BYU a software and hardware package worth $313.8 millionBYUs largest corporate gift everin large part because of BYUs supercomputing power.
2003 | The Mary Lou X supercomputer is purchased and is upgraded later that year.