Vignettes about Events & People

Data Processing Department

The data processing department IBM 34 computer in 1980Beginning in the summer of 1980, the data processing department used an IBM 34 computer as the college’s administrative computing system. It had 10 times more storage, was twice as fast, and was cardless. The new equipment used diskettes, a much more efficient data storage. The machine was the latest in the area of computer science.

Oh, how times have changed! From the System 34, the college upgraded to the IBM System 36 in the mid-1980s. It used a cartridge with 10 eight-inch floppy disks, and it was upgraded to a whopping 96 megabytes of memory.

The first personal computer lab for student use was in what is now the Computer Center. In it were two Apple IIs and two Radio Shack TRS 80s. There also was a Radio Shack Model 1 for show-and-tell. A short while later, 18 computers were crammed into the north half of KTB Room 111, while the office education instructor had typewriters set up on the south half of the room. The 18 computers were Radio Shack Model IIIs. They had 32 kilobytes of memory and no hard drive. They operated on diskettes.

After a couple of years, the computers were upgraded to IBM PCs. Still, the machines did not have hard drives, and they had 4.77-megahertz processors inside. Eventually, the processors became faster on the machines and reached 16 MHz at one point. The first Model III that had an external hard drive was placed on an employee’s desk in the mid-1980s. The hard drive itself cost $2,000 and had 5 megabytes of storage. Dot matrix printers were used at the time.

The first Introduction to Microcomputers class offered was in the fall semester of 1985. Fifty-nine students were enrolled. Not long after Dr. Pat McAtee arrived in July 1987 as the college’s third president, a new administrative computing system was purchased. The VAX system was ordered in November 1990, and the college completed the installation of the system in 1993 as student records and administrative functions were put on the computer.

Today, the college has two VAX machines that handle e-mail, administrative functions, and student records. Through the years, IBM 386 and 486 machines have been upgraded to Pentium processors of 66 and 233 MHz, to 1.2 gigahertz. The college has approximately 800 computers for student and employee use and has a full-time computer services staff of 10. The latest computers ordered for student use are 2.4-GHz machines with 128 MB of random access memory (which will be boosted prior to installation), a compact disc burner and 20-gigabyte hard drives. To give you an idea of the speed of the processors, 2.4 GHz is equivalent to 2,400 MHz.

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