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Computing at the University of Michigan

Use this discussion to collect information about the academic Computing Center and more generally computing at the University of Michigan.

History of Computing at the University of Michigan

posted Jan 30, 2016, 3:57 PM by Jeff Ogden   [ updated Jun 26, 2020, 5:52 PM ]

This page is an attempt to recreate the UM's Bentley Historical Library web page "The History of Computing at the University of Michigan".

The original URL for the page was: http://bentley.umich.edu/exhibits/computing/index.htm

A version of the page is available from the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20110811002311/http://bentley.umich.edu/exhibits/computing/index.htm

The U-M History of Computing Timeline 1946 to 2012 was recreated as a PDF by staff at the Bentley Historical Library and is available in U-M's Deep Blue Digital Archive.

A ribbon of five photographs (l to r): IBM650 in Statistical Research Lab, Robert Bartels in Computing Center, IBM 7090 console, North University Building, Operations staff mounting a tape in Computing Center and student in Church Street computing site

The History of Computing at the University of Michigan

University of Michigan's history of computing is highly complex. This site aims to feature highlights of that history, not chronicle it exhaustively. Sources consulted for this timeline are located within the university archives; those used most are the Board of Regents Proceedings and the Computing Center record group. Authors of the site invite commentary. Please contact Associate Archivist, Nancy Deromedi, 734.764.3482 or deromedi@umich.edu.

Click the image above to visit the U-M History of Computing Timeline, 1946-2007

The History of Computing at the University of Michigan Timeline was created by Alice Goff, graduate student archivist, and Nancy Deromedi, associate archivist, at the Bentley Historical Library. Earlier research was done by Mary Ann Williams as part of the Archives Practicum (SI 692), Winter 2007.

Note: The software used to create the Computing at Michigan Timeline is open-source and was created and maintained by the Simile Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We would like to acknowledge in particular the kind support of David Francois Huynh, MIT PhD student, and custodian of the Timeline application.

Archival Collections related to computing at the Bentley Historical Library


Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Avenue
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2113
bentley.ref at umich.edu

The images in the header are: IBM650 in Statistical Research Lab, Robert Bartels in Computing Center, IBM 7090 console, North University Building, Operations staff mounting a tape in Computing Center and student in Church Street computing site, Information Technology Records, Bentley Historical Library.


U-M Computing Center History

posted Dec 14, 2014, 2:42 PM by Jeff Ogden   [ updated Jan 30, 2016, 9:00 PM ]

I knew about the January 1976 U-M Research News issue "A Faster Cratchit - The History of Computing at Michigan". It turns out that there were three earlier issues of the U-M Research News devoted to computing that I didn't know about until today.

From the November / December 1969 issue of U-M Research News:

This is the third Research News in five years to be devoted to computing on campus. The May, 1964, issue was an introduction to computation and a dilcussion of the IBM 7090, the University's central computer at that time. The June, 1966, issue surveyed computer installations and activities throughout all units of the University. The present issue describes how the system now operated by the Computing Center- the IBM System/360 Model 67- serves users either through batch processing or conversational interaction. The article presupposes no background knowledge of computer or computing. - Ed.

"A Faster Cratchit" has by far the best cover.

All four issues are available online:
  • "The Computing Center", U-M Research News
    • May 1964, Vol XVI, No 11  Hathi Trust
    • Bruce Arden was a consultant.
  • "University Resources in Computation", U-M Research News
  • "The Computing Center: Coming to Terms with the IBM System/360 Model 67", U-M Research News
    • November / December 1969, Vol XX, Nos. 5 and 6  Hathi Trust
    • Larry Flanigan and Al Emery were consultants.
  • "A Faster Cratchit - The History of Computing at Michigan", U-M Research News
    • January 1976, Vol. XXVII, No. 1, 24 pages, PDF/A, 4.8MB  MTS Archive
Other documents that address the history of computing at the University of Michigan:

  • History of Connectivity on Campus at UM's BHL
  • Introduction to Computing Center Services, September 1983  Hathi Trust
  • The University of Michigan Computing Center, Mary Ann Wilkes (ed)
  • Program for the dedication of the U-M Computing Center Building
  • Welcome to the University of Michigan Computing Center
  • U-M Computing Center 20 Year Anniversary Program
  • Computing at Michigan: From the MTS and the Computing Center to ITD and Microcomputers: The Defining Years (1966-1986), Thomas Madden
    • April 1999, 33 pages, a paper for History 265 at the University of Michigan, PDF/A, 466KB  Deep Blue
  • U-M Computing Center 45 Year Anniversary Program and Reception Honoring R. C. F. Bartels
    • September 2004, 65 pages, PDF/A, 12.4MB  Deep Blue
  • A Century of Connectivity at the University of Michigan, Nancy Bartlett, Nancy Deromedi, Alice Goff, Christa Lemelin, Brian Williams, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, December 2007, 40 pages, PDF, 1.3MB.
  • Computing at the University of Michigan: The Early Years through the 1960s, Norman R. Scott, Computer Science and Engineering, UM College of Engineering, 2008
  • University of Michigan Computing Timeline, 1946 to 2012 (PDF), Bentley Historical Library in U-M's Deep Blue Digital Archive

U-M Computing Center Building

posted Dec 4, 2014, 10:37 PM by Jeff Ogden   [ updated Dec 14, 2014, 2:46 PM ]

The following text is taken from page 77 of the "North Campus Buildings" section from The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor:

The Computing Center at 1075 Beal Avenue was completed by the E. E. Kurtz Construction Company of Ann Arbor at a cost of $1,300,000. Construction began in October of 1969 and was completed in April of 1971. The project was funded by University sources and private gifts. It houses a large computer facility for academic teaching and research functions. Tarapata, MacMahon, Associates designed this three-story building to provide both reliable environmental controls and flexibility in use of space. Elevated "false" floors, raised approximately two feet from the actual floor, form a reservoir for distributing air through the total building thus eliminating conventional ductwork in a facility that would equal the capacity needed to air-condition 40 to 50 homes. This feature also permits readily accessible storage areas for computer cables and electrical and telephone lines serving the building. It is "ready-made" for expansion of the rapidly growing computer field. The University Computing Center, first established in 1959, has had a fantastic growth which is expected to continue. Long-span construction was used throughout the entire building. Since the walls and unusual beams are weight-bearing, the interior space is entirely free of support columns and was completed with easily movable interior partitions to facilitate space relocation. Computer components are located on all three floors to eliminate transmission lag. Elevator, mechanical, and electrical service areas are masonry cores placed at the sides of the building. The first floor is primarily a public service area, seminar rooms, and key punching and terminal rooms. On the second floor is the main computer room and adjacent open-office work areas, while the third floor houses computer-systems research areas, a library, and administrative offices.

Proposal to the U.S. Office of Education to request funding for a portion of the cost of constructing "A Computing Center Building" at the University of Michigan, January 1969. Includes a description of existing computing facilities at UM, including several photographs of the North University Building, plans and costs for the new building, which show a "drive-up window" and a basement that were not included in the building that was actually built.

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