A brief history of computing at Occidental
As we've previously discussed, we've been here a while. Some longer than others. In January of 1978, Paul Hubbard, a freshman at the time, took a job with the Data Processing department and worked with punch cards for our IBM System/370 Model 125.
The System/370 had four hard drives that stored a whopping 70MBs each. For those of you too young to know what a megabyte is, a gigabyte is 1024 megabytes and a terabyte is 1024 gigabytes. 1 terabyte hard drives are typical in laptops these days and these will store 3,745x as much data as our System/370 did back in '78. Want to know how we came from these humble beginnings to where we are today? Read more after the break.The System/370 ran a program called Shadow and was limited to 5 terminals initially. This was later updated to 8. These were placed at fixed locations so, for example, the Registrar's Office had a terminal and the Financial Aid Office. Some offices that did lots of data entry like the Business Office and the aforementioned Data Processing would get 2. Each terminal was numbered and labeled "Shadow 1", "Shadow 2" and so forth. This led to interesting support calls from folks who complained that their "shadow is broken". Eventually, we added a Prime 550 as our student machine. Data Processing is renamed to the Computer Center and Paul became a Systems Administrator at this time and the 550 was his responsibility. Prime would eventually disappear but before that happened, we upgraded the student system to a Prime 850, then a Prime 9955. Beginning a long tradition of re-using old equipment, the Prime 550 would replace the System/370, before being replaced itself by the Prime 850, and ran a piece of software called Compass to replace Shadow.
Bye Bye Mainframes
Decades away from financial ruin that would lead them to be bought out by Oracle, Sun Microsystems donated some SPARCstations to the College which became the new student systems. Our first, Cheshire, was eventually joined by two others, Bobcat and Cougar. This began another tradition of naming our servers after cats. Bobcat was a SPARCstation 2 and stored all the files. Students could access those files by connecting to one of our SPARCstation 1s: Cheshire by telnet or Cougar using a serial line. Some time after this, it is Fall of '97 and Steven and I arrive on campus as freshman. The Computer Center tells us to connect to Cheshire using QVT/Net, whereupon we would use Pine to check our email, which we would always delete after reading lest we exceed our 2 megabyte quota. A few years later, as more and more students use email and cause Cheshire to huff and puff, the Computer Center adds Tiger, a SPARCstation 10, to tide us over until we could make the next big leap to Microsoft Exchange but that's a story for another time.
Shortly after our student systems were migrated over to the SPARCStations, we replaced our last Prime with Bengal, a SPARCstation 10 running Banner and an Oracle database. Banner became our official Enterprise Resource Planning system and it remains, in upgraded form, to this day. Bengal would eventually be replaced by Cheetah, an Enterprise 420 and then again by Lynx, a Sun Fire 280R. By the time 2008 rolled around, the writing was on the wall for Sun hardware and their proprietary Solaris operating system and Banner was dragged, kicking and screaming, into a brave new world. But that, too, will be a story for another day.
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