Chronology - 1980s: A Decade of Expansion


1982 marked UW's Twenty-fifth Anniversary.

In 1982, UW and IBM undertook a major partnership involving networking technology. Above an IBM brochure advertises IBM's networking Personal Computers for the early 1980s.

UW Special Collections. GA 133-1408. Wes Graham Fonds. Series 4.2:UW Post-1973. IBM PC serial interface: broad level products, 1983.

On 28 July 1982, IBM offered UW a contract that gave the school $425,000 over four years. The IBM donation also included a generous amount of equipment, including: 1(one) 4341 Model II, 2 (two) Series /1 Model 4955 minicomputers, 64 (sixty-four) IBM Personal Computers.

UW Special Collections. GA 133-1399. Wes Graham Fonds. Series 4.2 UW Post-1973 Files. Letter: 28 July 1982, From IBM to Prof. Wes Graham, 1-2, 6.

The IBM donation formed the backbone of what was to become the Waterloo PC Network. For IBM, the partnership with UW proved to be an ideal method of investigating the network potential of their equipment. CSG staff wrote and tested relevant software and UW students served as "guinea pigs" by using, and thus further testing the software and equipment provided. CSG members could then further debug all key systems in the network. In this way, IBM's partnership was a cost effective way of developing new network technology. IBM could then incorporate new features and improvements into its commercial projects. UW, for its part, received equipment and a chance to develop new systems for educational computing.

UW Special Collections. GA 133-1400. Wes Graham Fonds. Series 4.2: UW Post-1973 Files. Memorandum May 13, 1983, To: T.A. Brzustowski, From: J.W. Graham, Re: MicroNET and the IBM Contract.

UW students using IBM PC’s in the early 1980s.
UW students using IBM PC's in the early 1980s. IBM computers such as these were a mainstay at UW during the decade. Photo courtesy of UW Special Collections/Don Cowan.

In 1982, Waterloo began the development of a PC network that consisted of microcomputers, minicomputers and/or mainframes. The network was developed to create an effective teaching environment using microcomputers. The development of the system resulted in a further donation of $7.5 million worth of equipment from IBM (Cowan, Graham, Mackie et al. 30).

The Department of Computing Services (DCS) newsletter noted that there were 420 institutions using WATFIV, 230 using WATBOL, and 370 using DCS's SCRIPT, all software products constructed by UW.

Carol Vogt, "Famous For Our Software." Department of Computing Services University of Waterloo: 25th Anniversary Issue. (October 1982), 2-3.

DCS pioneered the development of the first version of JANET, a local area network, or LAN. The network was designed to support a lab of IBM PCs in the Physics Department with Jerry Bolce and Adrian Weerheim. (Ponzo 92).

Computing Services Employees George Hill and Shirley Fenton Preparing a JANET Seminar
Computing Services Employees George Hill and Shirley Fenton Preparing a JANET Seminar. The name JANET took the first letters from the names of Jerry Bolce and Adrian Weerheim to create JANET.

The Institute for Computer Research (ICR) was established to strengthen industrial ties and enhance communication and collaboration between various groups on campus. Eric Manning was the first director of the institute.

The Ontario Government announced its plans to help build a home for the ICR. The new facility was to be called the William G. Davis Centre for Computer Research. Completion was projected for 1986. The government provided two dollars for every dollar offered by the university. In the end, the government provided $15 million to help fund the Davis Centre (Ponzo 60).

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