Chronology - 1960s


By 1966, computing was a $2.5 billion industry growing at a rate of 25% per year, which had 185,000 college graduates working in the field. At that point, the number of professionals working in the industry was expected to grow by 20% per year.

In 1965, Don Cowan obtained his PhD in Mathematics. In the summer of 1966, he was appointed the first Chairman of Waterloo's Computer Science Department. The name of the department was changed to Applied Analysis/Computer Science (AA/CS). When Cowan accepted a research group of experts in applied analysis into the enlarged department. Cowan shaped the department in an area that was still little known in the university community. By 1972 the department had 35 members.

Don Cowan (from left) with Department Chairs of Mathematics meeting with Dean David Sprott (far right).

Don Cowan (from left) with Department Chairs - Mathematics meeting with Dean David Sprott (far right).

In the 1966 academic year, Jerry Bolce wrote a Waterloo version of LISP, a language that was important to artificial intelligence. Bolce's version was known as LISP 1.5 (Ponzo 34). The Z1 programming language was also written at UW in 1966 by Bob Zarnke (pictured below), this language helped in the development of compilers and other systems software. It is likely that Z1 was one of the first for developing programming systems. (Cowan, Graham, Mackie 27).

Bob Zarnke (centre) and two other students retrieve a computer printout
Bob Zarnke (centre) and two other students retrieve a computer printout. UW Special Collections/Don Cowan.

In the fall of 1966, a number of High School teachers began teaching experimental classes in computer science. Many of the teachers involved in the program had attended a computer programming course at the UW during the previous summer.

The Computer Centre lent support to the program by making its computer facilities available to interested schools. As of October 1966, nineteen schools had registered to use UW's IBM 7040 computer. At that time, the principal computer program used for the project was SPECTRE.

UW Special Collections. GA 133-943. Wes Graham Fonds. Series 4.1: UW Files to 1973. "Computer Science Day Programme," Computer Centre Newsletter (October 11, 1966), 6.

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