UCC's first computers
Early arrivals in the 1960s
The first computer — as in flashing lights, large console, noisy fans and 3-phase power supplies! — arrived in UCC in approximately 1965. It was an IBM 1620 Model 2 and was located in the Electrical Engineering building. That computer remained in regular use until about 1973. A ‘general attendant’ named Pat Murphy (and I can’t recall his official title) used to power it up each morning and attend to bookings for ‘hands-on’ usage. It was de-installed and moved to a storage room in the Lee Maltings in about 1975. A former director of the Computer Centre, Fred Damoderan, tried very hard to persuade the local Museum to exhibit it but they steadfastly declined. It remained in the Maltings until the mid-1980s when one Ambrose Nestor, Head of Services, decreed that, since it was unwanted and taking up useful space, it should be scrapped. I believe it was donated to Hammond Lane Foundries!
John Murphy (author) at the tape library.
In passing, I should mention that the main method of transferring ‘source data’ onto those older computers was via either paper tape (not widely used at UCC) or via punched cards. For about 10 years from the late 1960s, UCC employed up to 6 people (invariably female!) who were officially the Data Preparation staff but were known colloquially as ‘the Punch Girls’ There simply weren’t any terminals or suchlike devices connected to these machines. Everything was ‘hands-on’.
Arrival of the VAX in 1970
Geraldine Buckley at the console of the VAX 11/780 (foreground);
Catherine Malone (centre) at the console of the IBM 4341.
By about 1970 the venerable 1620 was already deemed to be too slow and a replacement (IBM 1130) was installed that year. Dr. Paddy O’Regan and Dr. Dick Studdert — both now retired — somehow found time to develop a functioning Payroll System and, for it’s time, an excellent Student Registration System, both of which served UCC well until replaced in 1974. In addition, the 1130 was used by postgrads and lecturers in the Engineering and Maths Physics departments. The 1130 remained in service in Elec Eng up to the late 1970s. In 1973 the computing role of the Elec.Eng department was hived off to a newly-created department called the UCC Computer Bureau, ‘re-branded’ in 1990 as the UCC Computer Centre.
By 1970... Dr Paddy O'Regan and Dr. Dick Studder developed a functioning Payroll System and Student Registration System.