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  • History of IT

Information Technology

  • Information Technology History

    The Computer Center at Moorhead State Teachers College, as we were known then, started in 1962 when the first computer employee was hired. During the following years, the Center has grown and now provides service to the campus, the region and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System (MnSCU). Some of the historical documents are listed below.
  • First computer employee - 1962

    In1962 Ronald Sonnenberg was hired as the first data processing employee. The department was a data processing branch of the Registrar office. When Ron came on campus to interview, he was a nineteen year old from Vergas, MN. Ron was not familiar with the campus but knew he had to talk to the Registrar. When Ron arrived at the Registrar office, he saw a long line going into the office. When Ron got to the front of the line and said he was there for an interview, he was already 20 minutes late. Ron was told that all of the others in line were waiting to register and that he could go immediately in for the interview. Apparently, the interview went well because Ron became the first data processing employee with the title of Tabulating Machine Operator II and a salary of $1.97 an hour. The main use of data processing at this time was to provide student services such as record keeping and registration for classes. The department was located in the first floor of Flora Frick.

    First computer - 1966

    The Computer Department at Moorhead State College can probably be said to have come into existence the fall of 1966. Richard Corner was appointed jointly as Director of the Computer Center and Instructor in Business Administration. The data processing equipment at that time (all leased) consisted of an IBM 407 accounting machine, a collator, a sorter, interpreter and a keypunch machine. Victoria Volk was hired as a keypunch operator.
    In January of 1967, an IBM 1620/1622 computer system was purchased from the University of North Dakota at a cost of about $30,000. A second keypunch machine (for student use) was leased shortly thereafter. With the acquisition of a computer, there were programming courses offered by the Mathematics and Business department. The development of administration applications expanded from those associated the Registrar office to include financial processes from the Business office. The department had out grown its space in Flora Frick and was moved to the east side of MacLean in the area where the bookstore is now. Most of the campus administrative offices were also located in MacLean.
    During the 1967-68 academic year, the Computer Center operated administratively under the Dean of Academic Affairs (in particular, the Assistant Dean of Administrative Affairs, Dr. Robert Hanson), advised by a faculty committee called the Computer Center Committee.
    In the spring of 1968, Linda Green (later to become Linda Stulz) joined the department as keypunch operator. In June, 1968,. Marvin (Marv) Klimek was hired as Tab Machine Operator to assist Ron. Sonnenberg who had been promoted to a programmer. Dr. Martin (Marty) Holoien, a mathematics professor was appointed Director of the Computer Center. A grant for federal funds were used to upgrade the computer system.
    In February, 1969, Deona Basaraba (later to become Deona Grondahl) was hired as keypunch operator. In July Wayne Hoeshen was hired as the second programmer. It was also in July that the 407 Accounting Machine was replaced by a leased high-speed printer (300 lines per minute) attached to the 1620 computer.
    In January 1970 preliminary work was started to obtain a computer system with mass storage (disk and tape) capability. A proposal was also submitted (later funded) to request funds for a small time-sharing computer for academic computing. In January 1971, a Honeywell 115 computer system with two disk drives, two tape drives, and a high-speed printer was installed. In February 1971, a PDP 8/I five-terminal timesharing computer system was also installed. The PDP 8/I was used entirely for academic purposes, i.e., classroom teaching and problem solving in Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Engineering, Computer Science, and other disciplines. Besides college departments, time on that system is leased to the three local high schools. In 1971, Glen Guida joined the department as a programmer. Computing continued to increase for administration usage in student records, grade keeping class registration and financial applications.
    Also in 1971 the computer science department was created. It had formerly been in the department of Mathematics. Marty Holoien was named the first chair of Computer Science. Marty continued to server as director of the Computer Center.
    By 1973, Moorhead State had three computer systems serving the academic computing needs of the college: an on-site Honeywell 115; a remote CDC 6400 (referred to as MERITSS, the acronym for Minnesota Educational Regional Interactive Time-Sharing System); and a remote Univac 1106 located at Mankato. This was the start of remote processing over phone lines. Modems with a maximum speed of 110 baud were used for the first time.
    The Computer Science department offered computer courses, in particular the COBOL programming course and advanced courses dealing with computer operating systems were being taught to students.
    MERITSS, the timesharing computer system accessible by students and faculty via teletype terminals or CRT terminals had been available at Moorhead State since the summer of 1972. At that time the College had five ports (lines to the compute system) and the associated electronic equipment and telephone lines (communications equipment) needed to make them operational. Early in 1973 changes were been completed which provide the College with nine ports on the MERITTS computer.
    The remotely located Univac 1106 at Mankato was a large computer system used for processing programs too large for the other two systems. It first became available for use at this College during July 1973. This computer has been used mostly for performing statistical processing in connection with two Computer Science courses and with research projects conducted by staff members associated with the College. Donna Lyden (later to become Donna Baumhardt joined the department as a data entry operator in 1972.

    First computer registration 1974

    The first computer registration took place in 1974. Students no longer had to stand in lines to get their classes from departments but would select their courses from the class schedule and turn in their course requests that were keyed on a punch card. The cards were then run on the computer and students were enrolled in the classes and printouts were returned to the registration area where they were handed to the students showing their classes schedules. Richard (Dick) Wentz joined the departments programming staff in 1975. In 1977, Jerry Fuchs joined the departments programming staff.

    First on-line real-time registration 1978

    In 1978 the first true online registration for classes took place. Punch cards had been replaced with online computer terminals on the local system and the selected classes were keyed in and a class schedule for the student was printed immediately. In 1979 Arne Garness joined the department as the first academic support programmer and Judy Odegard joined the department as a data entry operator. A new area was necessary for the computer department and the second floor of Flora Frick, the gym area, was remodeled and became the home for Computer Science and Computer Services with offices and classrooms.
    The Minnesota State University system determined that all computer processing would be done at two central sites. Academic processing would be located in Mankato and administrative processing would be done at St. Cloud. This was the start of remote processing over high speed phone lines with modems. It also meant that the onsite computer was no longer needed and remote terminals were installed. The early 80s saw the introduction of personal computers. Apple IIs and other personal computers started being used for academic classes and labs were being created for them. At first personal computers were used for Computer Science but as time past they were being used for other technical classes.

    First computer center director 1983

    Early in 1983, the combined departments were split into Computer Science and Computer Services. Les Bakke was appointed as the first director of the Computer Services and Marty Holoien continued as chair of the department of Computer Science.

    First Data General computer 1983

    During the summer of 1983, the Minnesota State Colleges drafted a request for bid for a new distributed administrative computer system. Data General Corporation was selected to supply the new computer system. Data General was one of the very first computer systems with an electronic office application that included word processing, a spreadsheet, e-mail and a calendar. The initial purchase included the computer and 12 terminals. The terminals were placed in administrative offices. In addition to the electronic office functions, the computer also served as a terminal server for the large computer in St. Cloud. Batch processing to was also done through the Data General computer. Financial aid, business office transactions and other administrative data were the bulk of the batch processing.

    Academic Data General computer 1985

    In 1985, a second Data General computer was purchased for the academic departments. More and more computer terminals were being used for word processing, e-mail and access to administrative applications by both the administrative departments and academic departments. Jerry Nygard joined the department as an electronic technician to maintain the communications of these terminals.

    Computer Center moved 1987

    MSU received funding to remodel the library, add two floors to the east side of the building and to create a new Computer Center. During the early part of 1987, we installed cables and other computer communications equipment. In July 1987, the entire Computer Center moved from Frick to the second floor of the library. The move included moving four minicomputers, communications lines, terminal servers, line printers in addition to all normal office furniture and supplies. Computer services were restored to the campus by 4:00 pm. Saturday was devoted to making everything else work. Technicians from DEC and Data General assisted with the disconnection and reconnection of the large computers. Campus staff from the Physical Plant and Computer Center did all of the rest of the work. Changes in computing resulted in more computer labs with personal computers being needed for academic use.

    MSUS institutional research project 1989

    In 1989, John McCune, Administrative Vice President, Bette Midgarden, Associate Academic Vice President and Les Bakke, Computer Center director developed a proposal for the Minnesota State Universities to develop and manage system institutional research. The System office agreed on a contract for services. Iris Gill was hired as the IR analyst. The University provided research services for the system office and state offices for the next ten years. The computer center continued to provide this service until the merger of the Minnesota State Universities, Community Colleges and Technical Colleges. In June 1989 Jim Williamson was hired as a Electronic Technician to assist Jerry Nygard. Bryan Kotta was hired in 1990 as Academic Computer programmer replacing Arne Garness who retired.

    MSUS student records software development 1994

    Moorhead State University was awarded a System contract to develop a new student records system for the State Universities. Glen Guida was appointed lead developer for the Minnesota State College System. Kim Voegele and Rolly Vipond were hired as programmers. Bid specifications were developed and released. Four vendors responded to the bid and Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) was selected as the hardware and software vendor. Rdb was chosen as the database system and Uniface as the fourth generation client software. User groups were defined in the various student and administrative records. With the formation of MNSCU many computer changes took place with the merger. The independence that each campus had in Computer processing was chance to a cooperative between campuses. Moorhead State University was selected to develop the basic student record, registration, term course, curriculum, recruitment and admissions. Other campuses were selected to develop financial aid, human resources, placement, accounting and other modules. Moorhead was chosen as one of four regional computer centers, along with St. Cloud State University, Mankato State University and a site in St. Paul.

    Conversion to semesters 1994-95

    Semester conversion started in 1994. The Computer Center developed a database application to manage all of the courses changes, degree requirement changes and various levels of approvals. The catalog (Bulletin) created for semesters was done completely electronically. Data was moved from the curriculum database to Printing Services for printing.

    Student computer fee 1995

    In 1995, a University advisory committee recommended the adoption of a student computer fee. The fee proposal was approved by Administration, the students and by the System office. Fall 1995 was the first term we collected a student computer fee. Jeanne Alm was hired under these funds to provide student help and to manage the computer labs. Also in 1995, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities was created by merging the Technical Colleges, Community Colleges and State Universities. Curt Brosdahl joined the department in 1995 as a programmer.
    MnSCU student records development and conversion
    In 1997, JoDee Haugrud joined the department as a programmer and later became MSUs first Webmaster. All student and employee records were converted to the new MnSCU records system. Iris Gill moved to the office of Academic Affairs to serve as campus IR director. Craig Beckerleg was hired as her replacement with additional responsibilities of computer support.

    Web registration

    MSU became the first college in Minnesota to have a complete interactive web registration for students. The application developed by MSU programmers allowed students to register for the upcoming term on-line, on campus or from any computer with access to the web.

    MnSCU computer reorganization 1998

    MnSCUs system office reorganized the computer services in the spring of 1998. MSU Moorhead employees who worked for the regional center were transferred to MnSCU information technology (IT) division and reported to MNSCU instead of Moorhead. Marc Holland was hired as a Technical Specialist for the ever increasing use of the Internet and remote communications.
    In 1999, Amanda Stegmaier joined our department as web assistant. MnSCU computer programming was reorganized with much of the control transferred to the MNSCU system office in St. Paul. In 2000, Bill Scheffler joined the department providing Macintosh support.
    The official name of Computer Center/Computer Services was changed to Information Technology in August 2002. The change is consistent with current naming of offices that supply computer support to an organization. The change also reflects the additional responsibilities of the department.

    Moorhead State University
    Information Technology Department Audit
    March 9, 1977

    1. At least 100 tapes be added to the number of tapes available
    2. The number of tapes used in tape rotation should be increased to provide for better file back-up. In addition, offsite storage of data files should be provided for systems operational at the administrative computer center at St. Cloud.
    3. Provision should be made for off-site backup of the UNIVC 90/30 files and related operations documentation.
    4. Provision should be made for emergency lighting in the event of power failure.
    5. Night computer operators should be instructed in security and emergency procedures.
    6. Logs should be maintained for software and hardware problems. These logs should include the nature of the problem, date reported and follow-up information.
    7. Installation of the standard accounting system of the State University Board should be completed by July 1, 1977. Applications not currently operational on this system such as as student activities, agency accounting and bookstore accounting should be operational by this date. Duplicate accounting systems such as those arising from the local ADR system should be eliminated.
    8. Program testing procedures should be revised to ensure that "live" data files are not used in testing.
    9. On-line student files should be copied and placed in a secure location after update. Sensitive reports and forms such as grade reports and student bills should not be run by student operators.
    10. The staff complement for Computer Services should be increased to the allocated 8 positions.
    11. Sensitive forms such as check forms should be secured when not in use.
    12. The current documentation standards should be used to document present and future systems. A schedule should be adopted for system documentation which leads to complete documentation by January 1, 1978. Priority should be given to the documentation of system operation ad data input preparation.
    13. Standard forms should be adopted for tape rotations and data entry documentation.
    14. Systems now running in production mode should be controlled by the operations staff. Input-output control, tape rotations and job control language should be the responsibility of operations. A schedule for phasing this responsibility from the programmers to the operations staff should be established.
    15. A review should be made of the present procedures relating to financial aids, NDSL and loan accounting to eliminate check posting, list checking and other unnecessary clerical work. In particular, NDSL accounting should be expanded to include detail record keeping by the computer system so that manual ledger posting will not be necessary. The standard student loan accounting system in use at other state universities should be considered for adoption.
    16. A review of computer room keys should be made to ensure that only authorized personnel have keys.
    17. Unauthorized personnel should not be allowed in the computer room. Doors leading to the outside should be provided with closers and locked to prevent unauthorized access.
    18. Smoking should not be allowed in the computer room.
    19. A review of the financial control of NDSL disbursements and accounting should be made. Provision should be made for the separation of reconciliation of the NDSL account from NDSL disbursement and accounting.
    20. Provision should be made for data entry information to be verified when entered by computer services staff. Routines now being developed for key-disk entry by CRT should be expanded to allow verification of critical fields.
    21. Provision should be made for back-up of transactions as they are processed for update.
    22. Suspense account capability should be added to the student system so that money receipted but not posted to a student account can be identified and corrected.
    23. A review of the interfaces between administrative systems should be conducted in an effort to eliminate unnecessary duplication and clerical work.
    24. External controls of the accounting system should be improved to include label checking by the business office. Other administrative systems should be reviewed for the possible inclusion of similar external controls.
    25. A schedule should be enforced for production to provide for better load leveling and planning.
    26. Reports should be reviewed to ensure that titles, headings and dates are included.
    27. The use of the "amount due" field in the student system should be reviewed.

    Support Unit Program Review
    Computer Services
    Moorhead State College
    December, 1973


    1. Provide keypunching service to support administrative functions of the college, in particular, those functions carried out by the Registrars Office, Business Office, Financial Aid Office, and the Office of Student Personnel Services.
    2. Provide computer programming support for both the maintenance and development of automated administrative functions.
    3. Provide equipment and personnel to process the data and programs developed by Computer Services staff in conjunction with the Colleges administrative offices.
    4. Provide systems development support for those administrative and academic services requesting it.
    5. Provide equipment and personnel to meet the computer needs of various academic programs, e.g., Business Administration, Computer Science, Economics, Engineering, Mathematics, New Center, Physics, Psychology, Sociology and others.
    6. Provide programming and systems-development support for the College Librarys functions.
    7. Provide keypunching, operating and programming support so that the College can meet its responsibilities in connection with the State College Accounting and Personnel System.
    8. Be sensitive to ways in which the available Computer Services staff and equipment can assist in accomplishing administrative and academic functions of the College
    9. Be alert to possible ways in which Computer Services can help solve some of the problems of the community in and around Moorhead, particularly as those problems are related to education or to functions of governmental agencies.

    Clientele Served

    1. Substantial support is given to the following College offices:
      1. Registrars Office
      2. Admissions Office
      3. Business Office
      4. Financial Aid Office
      5. Housing Office
      6. Bookstore
      7. Food Services
      8. Development Office
      9. Library
      10. Student Personnel Services
      11. Printing Services
    2. The following academic departments utilize Computer Services considerably: 
      1.  Art
      2. Business Administration
      3. Computer Science
      4. Economics
      5. Education
      6. Mathematics
      7. Music
      8. New Center
      9. Speech & Theatre
      10. Physics
      11. Psychology
      12. Sociology
    3. Virtually all academic departments utilize the test-scoring services
    4. The following College offices or academic departments utilize Computer Services occasionally: 
      1. Graduate Studies
      2. Audiovisual Center
      3. Biology
      4. Chemistry
      5. Early Childhood Center
      6. Day Care Center
      7. Engineering
      8. Faculty Senate
      9. Student Senate
      10. Academic Affairs
      11. Counseling
      12. Presidents Office
      13. Placement Office
    5. Evident of continued or increased demand for computer services. 
      1. Administrative departments are required to produce more detailed reports. Computerizing administrative functions makes such reporting possible with virtually no increase in the staffs of those departments. It does mean continued and, likely, increasing support from Computer Services, however.
      2. Moorhead State College must provide data to the State College Accounting and Personnel System in ever-increasing amounts. This is largely a function of Computer Services.
      3. As academic departments see the need for increasing the effectiveness of their programs, more and more of them find support for such increased effectiveness by applying some aspect of computing to their academic activities. Obviously, this involves Computer Services.
      4. One of the purposes of the Minnesota State College System (as stated in the mission statement) is to "lend assistance to individuals, organizations, institutions, and agencies within the community". It appears that Computer Services may be offered an ever increasing opportunity to help the College fulfill this purpose. The Clay County Treasurers Office and the Auditors Office have already requested the assistance of Computer Services in serving area residents.
      5. Public schools in the geographical area served by Moorhead State will likely be looking to the Colleges Computer Services for assistance in acquiring and utilizing computer terminals. Some area high schools are already being given such help, namely, Moorhead, Borup, Ada, Gary and Twin Valley High Schools. As the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) develops, more and more public schools will be acquiring computing capability.

    Current Developments

    1. Present hardware capability
      1. On-site computer systems
        1. IBM 1620 60-K system (owned)
        2. Honeywell 115 32-K disk/tape system (leased)
      2. On-site unit-record equipment and other equipment
        1. 1 IBM 026 Card Punch (leased)
        2. 5 IBM 029 Card Punches (leased)
        3. 1 IBM 082 Sorter (leased)
        4. 1 IBM 519 Reproducer (leased)
        5. 1 Moore 300 Detacher (owned) 
        6. Acquired through government surplus
        7. 1 Tab Decollator (owned)
        8. 1 Analog Plotter
      3. On-site computer terminals
        1. 17 ASR 33 Teletypes (leased)
        2. 1 VST 1200 CRT Terminal (owned)
      4. Remote computer systems
        1. Univac 1106 at Mankato 
          Accessed via our Honeywell computer system
        2. Univac 1106 at ST. Cloud 
          Accessed via our Honeywell computer system
        3. CDC 6400 at Minneapolis 
          Accessed via the teletypes or the CRT
    2. Planned changes in hardware capability
      1. To support administrative functions
        With the installation of The State College System administrative computer at St. Cloud, it would seem that no large change in local computing power is necessary. However, because of new pricing policies at Honeywell, that firm has offered Moorhead State College a considerably more powerful computer system at virtually no increase in cost. It would seem the better part of wisdom to take advantage of that offer. Appropriate action is being taken to implement such a change within the next year if possible.

        There are some transaction between the college and students that lend themselves to the use of on-line terminals. Reference here is particularly to registration functions and to business office transactions. Further study will be made of the desirability of utilizing such facilities and the wisdom of requesting additional funds to make their installation possible.
    3. To support academic functions
      As the number of students and departments utilizing the computer grows, Computer Services must review the quality of the service it provides and make appropriate changes. This process is an on-going one and has in the past resulted in satisfied users.

      Three computer systems presently serve the academic computing needs of the college: 1) the on-site Honeywell 115; 2) the remote CDC 6400 (referred to as MERITSS, the acronym for Minnesota Educational Regional Interactive Time-Sharing System); and 3) the remote Univac 1106 (located at Mankato)

      The Honeywell 115 has been operational since February 1, 1971. It is used to support several Computer Science courses, in particular the COBOL course and advanced courses dealing with computer operating systems.

      MERITSS, the timesharing computer system accessible by students and faculty via teletype terminals or the CRT terminal has been available at Moorhead State since the summer of 1972. At that time the College had five prots (lines to the compute system) and the associated electronic equipment and telephone lines (communications equipment) needed to make them operational. Within the past month changes have been completed which provide the College with nine ports on the MERITTS computer. However, usage had built up on the five ports to the point that often just the most determined users actually got on-line to the computer. Therefore when more ports were added, a backlog of less persistent users took up the slack almost immediately. It is planned that two more ports will be added during the summer of 1974. Plans also include the addition of three terminals (like the ASR 33 teletypes) to provide access to those ports.

      The remotely-located Univac 1106 at Mankato is a large computer system used for processing programs too large for the other two systems. It first became available for use at this College during July, 1973. Up to the present time, that computer has been used mostly for performing statistical processing in connection with two Computer Science courses and with research projects conducted by staff members associated with the College.

      No changes are planned with respect to the service presently provided utilizing the Univac computer system at Mankato.
    4. Funding for computer equipment
      As of July 1, 1973, the funds needed to pay for the lease and maintenance of all computer-related equipment have been budgeted directly to the State College Board Office. The man responsible for this budget is Mr. Carl Long, Director of the State College Management Information System. The local Director of Computer Services submits his equipment budget proposal to Mr. Long who then reviews it and ultimately combines it with similar proposals from the other colleges. The adjusted combined proposal is submitted to the State College Board for adoption. The reason given for this variation in budgetary procedure was that someone in a Board Office position could more easily bring about coordination in the acquisition and utilization of computers in the State College System.

    Staffing Information 1973-74

    1. Operators
      There are presently 2 keypunch operators, one of whom works three-fourths time. The other one does numerous other secretarial tasks in addition to keypunching. Consequently there is, perhaps, 1.25 full-time-equivalent (FTE) keypunch operators. There is one full-time computer operator and two part-time student operators (.6 FTE).
    2. Programmers
      At the present time there are three full time programmers. Most of the work is applications programming but a considerable amount of systems programming is also done.
    3. Administration
      There is .4 FTE devoted to administration of Computer Services in the person of the Director. In addition to this he serves as chairman and teacher in the Department of Computer Science, statistical consultant, and systems analyst in the development of computerized systems.
    4. Appropriateness of staff
    Both as to training and performance in their positions, all resent employees are excellently suited. All of them have been in their positions long enough so that they are well aware of ways in which preset functions are carried out and come up with ideas about how the department can assist other departments in performing their functions.
    It is likely that another computer operator should be hired in order to meet the demands of an increasing work load resulting from more and more local applications as well as from the developing State College Accounting and Personnel System. An additional operator would make it possible to do production runs at hours of the day when program development is not utilizing the computer systems.
    For the same reasons given for increasing the computer operator staff, and additional keypunch operator may be needed. This will depend to a great extent on the size of the increased work load produced by the developing State College Accounting & Personnel System.