7. Historical information about the UBC Computing Centre

posted Nov 5, 2010, 9:15 AM by Jeff Ogden   [ updated Jun 1, 2014, 1:23 PM ]
From Report of the President 1963-1964,University of British Columbia, pages 19 and 41:

The University's early entry into the field of computing science has made available to business and government a centre to which many complex problems may be referred. A number of enterprises have learned through the Computing Centre how computers may be applied to their operations and have since bought their own computers. These include the B.C. Hydro and Power Authority and two of the large industrial corporations in forestry. Our Computing Centre has assisted traffic-studies conducted by the City of Vancouver in the calculations needed for the new Port Mann bridge and has been similarly involved in several other developments in Greater Vancouver.


So rapid have been the advances made in the field of computing that the IBM 1620 acquired in 1961 is already out of date and, indeed, is being replaced by an IBM 7040. New fields will thus be brought within reach of research on this campus and the staff is now growing in order to keep pace with the demands of the more powerful computer. It is certain that more effective service will be at the disposal of the many departments that use the computer.

Dr. T. E. Hull, Director of the Computing Centre, on leave at the University of Toronto, resigned.

There is quite a bit of information about the UBC Computing Centre available in the UBC Archives:

Computing Centre fonds. -- 1954-1996.
5.27m of textual records.
70 photographs.
Cartographic material.

The University of British Columbia Computing Centre awas established in the spring of 1957. In the autumn of 1955, President Norman Mackenzie appointed a Committee on the Automation to investigate "the University's total interest in computers and automation in general". The Committee consisted of approximately 20 members representing most of the research interests on campus and was chaired by E.D. McPhee. At the Committee's first meeting on November 16, 1955, four sub-committees were formed: Departmental Interests and Specifications; Training and Curriculum: Type Equipment; and Library Needs and Resources. The Commttee held several meetings and prepared a number of reports on various facets of computerization. The Computing Centre was established in 1957 with the installation of the ALWWAC III-E. Because of the ever-increasing demand for memory and speed, the Computing Centre eventually replaced the ALWAC with the IBM 1620 in 1961. The IBM 7040 was introduced in 1964 and IBM 360/67 and IBM 7044 was introduced in 1967. Over the years the Centre has continually upgraded its facilities to provide academic and administrative computing services to the University. The Computing Centre has also had several directors since its inception. J.M Kennedy, A.G. Fowler, and J.L. Leigh. In the 1990's, the Computing Centre went through many major changes both structurally and functionally.

The fonds consists of records that document the origins and establishment of the UBC Computing Centre as well as financial, technical, organizational, and administrative records. It includes the CIPS Sous-fonds, and ten series: Early Computing Centre Series; Pre-1969 Series; 1969-1978 Series; Systems Hardware Operations Committee Series (SHOC); Software Committee Meetings; Manuals and Technical Information Series; UBC Computing Centre Newsletter Series; 1979-1988 Alphabetical Series; 1973-1996 Chronological Series; Photograph Series.

The UBC Data Services: a (very) brief overview

From http://data.library.ubc.ca/guide/overview.html:

Data Services (then called Data Library) was established as a branch library in 1972 in a unique collaboration between the UBC Library and the then Computing Centre. It was located in the Computing Centre and was jointly administered by the Library and University Computing Services until July 1992. Then the UBC Library assumed full responsibility for the Data Library, and it moved to the Main Library.

In January 1997, the Data Library moved to the Walter C. Koerner Library, and became officially part of the Humanities and Social Science Division. It is currently known as 'Data Services'.

We serve primarily researchers in the social sciences, and in commerce and business administration. Data files contain complex research materials and, if you've never used numeric data before, expect a steep learning curve! But remember that we're here to help you.