Chronology - 1960s
In June of 1965, Gus German, Robert Zarnke, and Hugh Williams solved the Archimedes Cattle Problem. No complete solution to the problem had ever been devised by mathematicians in over 2000 years. The problem was first proposed by the Greek mathematician Archimedes of Alexandria in 200 BC. The UW team used a combination of the IBM 7040 and 1620 computers to produce the solution which had over 200,000 digits. When they successfully solved the problem, Wes Graham contacted major newspapers to ensure that the team, who had laboured in their spare time, received full credit for their work (Ponzo 29).
Later in the summer, another team that also included Gus German and Bob Zarnke, of the Archimedes Cattle Problem team, as well as Richard Shirley and Jim Mitchell wrote the first WATFOR compiler program. The compiler was an immediate success and by the fall it had over 2,500 users at UW. What was more remarkable was that at Waterloo this compiler had been created by four undergraduate students working over one summer.
By November 1965, five Canadian schools, eleven American installations and one in Switzerland had requested a copy of WATFOR. By June of 1966, requests were received from an additional two Canadian locations, thirty-six American, and six international installations The WATFOR compiler was acknowledged to have increased the computing capacity at the university by 5 times, thereby saving the university dollars in hardware and software upgrades that most certainly would have been required to provide necessary computing service.
The original WATFOR compiler for the FORTRAN IV computer language for the IBM 7040 computer had diagnostic capabilities superior to most of its contemporary counterparts so that users could find and correct errors. The program greatly expanded the potential for using computers in undergraduate instruction and it put the fledgling university on the map internationally.
Between 1964 and 1968, computing at UW functioned on a "closed shop" basis. The card reader on the IBM 7040 computer and the initial set up on the IBM 360 were too delicate for students to use, so technicians, sometimes called wripper-wrappers fed the cards into the machine. (The input process can be seen above). In 1968, however, Mike Doyle and Wes Graham rigged the 360/75's card reader to take student input. Once this was accomplished, UW returned to the "open shop" cafeteria style computing it had known from 1961 to 1964, when the school's main computer was the easy-to-use IBM 1620.
By the mid-1970s, 10,000 Ontario High School students were visiting UW annually for Computer Science Days. The events became so significant that special software was created to help the students write successful programs. (Please see below). Grade One students visited UW for the first time and toured the computer installation. After the tour the students constructed a cardboard facsimile under the guidance of their teacher. (Ponzo 49). Computer Science at Waterloo had captured attention beyond the normal areas that one would associate with so new a university. Years later students and faculty members would explain their decisions to attend the University of Waterloo because of their experience at Computer Science Days.
Paul Cress wrote TUTOR, a simplified version of BASIC/FORTRAN, to be used on Computer Science Days.
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