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Computing Center

"Punch Card Computing"

"Punch Card Computing" c. 1972

 

 

The most obvious and longest-lasting legacy of the EC was the introduction of a permanent computer center on campus. Before the EC leased an IBM 1130 computer system and had it installed at MSC in the fall of 1972, there were no computing systems on the campus of any North Dakota state college (although the two state universities, UND in Grand Forks and NDSU in Fargo, did have computing systems).

When MSC needed computing services before the EC procured their IBM system, faculty and staff had to beg to have the use of a unit owned by a local businesses, or else travel to Bismarck to use the systems located at the State Capitol. The introduction of a computing system on MSC property was a game-changer in the use of quantitative data and in the development of computer technology courses.

"EC Students at Computer," 1972

"EC Students at the Computer" 1972

 

 

From its installation, the IBM 1130 system proved to be a popular technology. Students and faculty learned together collaboratively. It was an exciting new field to explore. In this new technologic field, the vision of the EC as a horizontal learning community, with open and level interactions between faculty and students, was in large part realized.

Daily interactions between faculty and students were enhanced by the novelty of computer science and the access granted to the computer system. Keys to the room which held the IBM 1130 were given out to students in the EC program, which gave them access to the system at any hour of the day, a level of access unheard of in any other programs.

"Kae Erickson and Dave Cockrell at the IBM Key Punch," 1973

"Kae Erickson and Dave Cockrell at the IBM Key Punch" 1973

 

Dr. Eric Clausen, director of the EC and himself a proponent and early user of computer technology at MSC, has stated that instruction in computer technology flowed from student to instructor as well as from instructor to student. The newness of the program and technology, as well as the rapid movement within the field, allowed for a learning community which took its lead from whomever had knowledge and was willing to share. Students like Dave Aas taught other students and staff as much as he was taught himself. Aas, who showed tremendous aptitude in computing science, took the kernel of knowledge he cultivated within the EC and its computer center and used that knowledge to build a professional career in information technology.