CCIT History Project

Accessible Timeline

Clemson Computing Through The Years: A timeline of information technology and computing at Clemson University.

Year Title Text Photo Caption
1948 Early Tabulating Equipment The Registrar’s Office in Sikes Hall receives its first installation of IBM unit record equipment—a term later coined to describe the innovative mechanical data processing systems (tabulators, keypunchers, collators, sorters, etc.) that preceded the computing era. The IBM 405 tabulator could add, subtract and print reports from punched cards. Initial installation also included an IBM Type 80 sorter and IBM 805 test scoring machine.
1961 First Computer After two years of investigation and a formal request to the state legislature, Clemson’s first computer, a $50,000 Royal MacBee RPC-4000 with 16K drum memory (a precursor to hard disk drives), is installed in a single room on the first floor of Poole Hall. Control panel of RPC-4000, housed at Clemson’s first “Computer Center” in Poole Hall.
1962 Services Expand Moving to the O-section of Martin Hall, the Computer Center takes on new talent and services. Charles Kirkwood joins to develop computer course curriculums, including Math 321 and 409. Eugenie Bartress writes the first computer scheduling program for the Registrar’s Office. Charles Kirkwood (far right) with members of his computer class. The Computer Center was staffed by Merrill Palmer (far left), half-time director and math teacher, and Sarah M. Skelton (seated), secretary.
1966 IBM Steps In As demand outpaces the RPC 4000, two new computers are purchased. An IBM System/360 Model 40 goes to Poole Hall for academic and research needs, and an IBM System/360 Model 20 is integrated with the keypunch and tabulating operations in Sikes Hall. The more robust system in Poole is 100 times as powerful as the old RPC unit it replaces. The first IBM mainframe installed at the Clemson Computer Center was a System/360 Model 40, similar to the one shown in the above promotional photo.
1969 Dean Takes Over President R.C. Edwards moves the Computer Center under the watch of his newly appointed Dean of the Graduate School, Arnold E  Schwartz. A civil engineer by education, Schwartz will be instrumental in expanding the Computer Center footprint in Poole Hall and recruiting the next generation of leadership for Clemson University computing services. Arnold E. Schwartz, started at Clemson in 1963 in the School of Engineering. He was Dean of the Graduate School 1969-1990.
1970 A Better Mainframe Despite a series of upgrades increasing productivity of the Computer Center’s mainframe to a capacity of 8,000 jobs a month, ever-growing demand requires a newer solution. The replacement, an IBM System/360 Model 50, is soon up and running twice as many jobs as its predecessor. President R.C. Edwards (center), escorting guests on a tour of the Computer Center, stands beside the control panel of the IBM System/360 mainframe.
1972 Convergence Academic computing moves forward with the purchase of an IBM System/370, Model 155, in a major upgrade that also addresses the inefficiency of maintaining two separate operations on campus. Poole Hall’s Computer Center is chosen to house all data processing hardware. Applications programming is unified, while Sikes Hall administrators and many new users gain remote access. Poole Agricultural Center, built in 1955 and shown above in 1967, was home to the Computer Center until 1988.
1973 System Upgrade Following a major IBM platform upgrade in the previous year from the System/360 to the System/370, Computer Center employees spend the Christmas break converting to its latest version, the Model 158. A Computer Center employee works at the main control panel of the IBM System/370.
1974 Reset As the Computer Center’s first director, Merrill Palmer, moves on, Russell Shouest steps in for the interim to foster the emergence of a broader organization. The Division of Application Services (DAPS), chartered to provide hardware and software to the University’s academic, student and fiscal operations, locates in Martin Hall under Darrell Hickman. The Division of Information Systems Development (DISD), led by John C. (Jack) Peck, is formed to assist S.C. government agencies and industry in the design, implementation, and maintenance of computerized solutions. This snapshot of operations information appeared on the inside cover of the June 1975 issue of the Computer Center’s newsletter.
1977 S.C. Agencies Plug In The Division of Information Systems Development (DISD) begins work on the Medicaid Management Information System under contract to the S.C. Department of Social Services. Following several smaller projects, this long-term commitment is the start of a prosperous and lasting relationship that will continue into the present. A letter from the S.C. Governor to Clemson President R.C. Edwards recognizes the success of an early DISD development effort.
1978 Duckenfield Era Graduate Dean Arnold Schwartz recruits Dr. Christopher J. Duckenfield from Western Carolina University. An Englishman with two of his three degrees from Oxford University, the beloved “Dr. D” will be instrumental in the advancement of computing at Clemson. His initial role as the Computer Center’s Director will eventually expand to Vice Provost of the overarching Division of Computing and Information Technology (DCIT), which he will lead until 2004, the year he dies suddenly from cancer. Christopher J. Duckenfield.
1978 Print Services An IBM 6640 document printer is installed for shared academic use. One of the world’s first commercial ink jet printers, the 6640 can print “typewriter quality” with four font style options. At Lee Hall, the university’s first computer graphics center opens with five direct-storage terminals and a phone line for data transfer. Employees work in the Clemson University Computer Center, located in the basement of Poole Hall.
1978 Scaling Upward The IBM System/360 at Sikes Hall (since 1966) is retired. Long relegated as a remote job entry station to the Computer Center, it is replaced by a simpler IBM 3777 terminal. The data processing staff there, led by Ray Harrell since 1956, now uses mainframe applications for billing, monthly budget reports, payroll, personnel records, applicant referral, affirmative action reporting and central stores accounting. Punched paper cards are all but gone in favor of space-saving diskettes, storing the equivalent data of 2,080 cards each. Sikes Hall, shown here in 1960, was originally known as the Agricultural Building. After burning down in 1925, it was rebuilt as the college library, then remodeled in 1972 to hold all administration offices.
1979 Race To Keep Up The IBM System/370 is replaced by a new mainframe. Simply called the IBM 3033, it is twice as fast and half as large as its predecessor (yet no more powerful than a very large PC today). Recent enhancements also include a conversion from SVS to MVS (IBM’s new operating system), precise floating-point calculations, punched paper tape for continuous data entry, and a jump in tape drive storage density from 1600 BPI to 6250 BPI. In only two years, this system will be deemed overloaded and ready for another major upgrade. Computer Center employees grapple with floor panels, cables and hardware cabinets during the 1979 installation of the IBM 3033.
1979 All Systems Go Culminating nearly three years of development by Clemson’s DISD Group, the first South Carolina Medicaid claims are processed on the IBM mainframe. The successful launch of this state service will spur continued growth in computing resources at Clemson. Meanwhile, new input stations across campus increase access to the Computer Center’s resources. Riggs Hall introduces 17 terminals and a printer, the hours for Sirrine Hall’s remote center are extended and work begins on a new facility in Brackett Hall. A Computer Center employee retrieves a magnetic tape from a storage rack.
1980 Support Digs In After logging an entire semester with no degradations in service for the first time in years, the Computer Center adds a new suite of offices for the Academic Computing Support staff in the basement of Poole Hall. Technical assistance and expertise continues to expand with exploratory purchases of an Apple II computer and a Level II TRS-80 microcomputer. An Apple II Plus computer, similar to the one purchased for technical evaluation and development by the Computer Center in 1980.
1981 New Hardware Back-to-back grants from Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) enable the remote computing facility in Riggs Hall to be converted to a high-tech computer graphics center. A 600-line plotter, two graphics subystems and several terminals will be supported by a DEC VAX/VMS computer, moving Clemson beyond its traditional IBM product base. The campus Physical Plant integrates its IBM midrange system with the mainframe for online scheduling of maintenance and work orders. The state’s Clemson-based Medicaid Management Information System is federally certified and featured in Computerworld as the country’s first MMIS to use a database management system. The VAX 11/780 was the first widely used 32-bit minicomputer. A competitor of the IBM System/370, it used a multitasking virtual-memory operating system called VMS.
1982 More Power With a record 78 student workers now employed by the Computer Center, an IBM 3081-K is installed, wielding processing speeds 20 times faster than that of the IBM 3033 it replaces. More boosts to the system include support for FORTRAN 77 (the latest ANSI-based version of the widely used programming language for students and faculty) and IBM RACF, a new data access security software and future standard component for mainframes. Two student employees work on a mainframe project in the Computer Center.
1984 Getting Personal Students and faculty take advantage of a new personal computer discount purchase program with full Computer Center support. Regularly scheduled seminars teach employees about electronic mail, hardware selection, ergonomics, peripheral devices and accessories. A center of 50 DEC Rainbow 100 microcomputers opens at Cooper Library, with similar facilities planned at Lowry Hall and Daniel Hall, as well as a laboratory of Apple Macintoshes at Martin Hall. The Cooper Library featured the Rainbow 100 microcomputer. This Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) product competed in the early IBM PC market. With two CPUs, it could run in either CP/M or DOS operating system modes.
1985 A New Name The Computer Center, Division of Application Programming Services (DAPS) and Division of Information Services Development (DISD) reorganize under a single Division of Computer and Information Technology (DCIT). The latest project completed by the ISD group is an online system for the Department of Health and Environmental Control, enabling online retrieval and updating of public health records by home health care nurses. Mainframe email is introduced when Clemson links up to BITNET, an early cooperative computer network for university and research communities. A description of the DCIT organization taken from a 1986 publication about Clemson University computer services.
1986 IBM Hiatus Delayed for months by a highly contested procurement, DCIT switches mainframe vendors, replacing its IBM 3081-K at Poole Hall with an NAS AS/XL-60. The new system, a fully compatible product built by Hitachi and marketed by a subsidary of National Semiconductor, is deemed superior to IBM’s current offerings. Meanwhile, a statewide campaign to fund a new home for the mainframe concludes, allowing construction to begin on the Information Technology Center (ITC) in the University’s research park, located 10 miles from campus in Anderson County. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Information Technology Center in Anderson County included President Max Lennon (holding shovel on left) and Governor Dick Riley (holding middle shovel).
1987 Boundaries Fade Clemson connects to the Internet via the National Science Foundation Network using an early interface called SMTP (Simple Mail Transport Protocol) on a VAX computer. The system, dubbed “Hubcap,” is running on BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution), itself a major step toward open source versions of the UNIX operating system. (The Hubcap server will live on until 2014, shortly before its long-time steward, Mike Marshall, retires.) With construction of the new Information Technology Center at Clemson’s Research Park complete, employees move in during Thanksgiving weekend, taking the NAS AS/XL-60 mainframe from Poole Hall with them. Students work in the computer lab at Kinard Hall.
1988 Real Information Student Information Services launches, providing online access to the academic calendar, student records, and exam schedules. For Clemson employees, a new information system (EIS) enables access to personal profiles. The Information Technology Center officially opens in a dedication ceremony whose attendees include President Max Lennon and Governor Carroll Campbell. Cover photo from a University brochure about the Information Technology Center (ITC), located in the Clemson Research Park in Anderson County.
1989 Real Automation For the first time, students can register for housing online, leaving behind the old procedure of completing a paper room reservation form. The application uses a new student database, which is also leveraged for computer-generated transcripts in the Registrar’s Office. A new Apple Macintosh lab opens in Daniel Hall and the domain is acquired for the Internet. Students work in the Apple Macintosh lab at Martin Hall.
1991 Engaging Users DCIT conducts a study on computer services and policies, resulting in a number of major changes to remote facilities in the months that follow. The DCIT-sponsored “Info Expo,” held at Cooper Libary to demonstrate latest network and technology capabilities, draws 900 attendees. All processing of University purchase orders, requisitions, and receipts moves online, and Information Systems Development (ISD) provides another turnkey state agency program, this one for Home Health Services. DCIT employees attend the campus help desk at Poole Computer Center.
1992 Services Improve The Graphics and Document Design center adds a new Postscript Level 2 printer, offering device-dependent color printing, nuanced by up to 256 shades of grey. The Computer Resources function for the mainframe goes paperless, enabling users to request services from a terminal display. A University-wide online calendar is introduced, and DCIT becomes an affiliate of the National Center for SuperComputing Applications. The Tektronix Phaser II, one of the first economically feasible color PostScript printers, used thermal wax transfer technology to simulate the 4-color printing process.
1993 Early Internet Clemson connects to Gopher, an early Internet interface for viewing text files from servers all over the world. More than 7,000 Gopher servers will join up before its popularity declines in the late 1990s in favor of the World Wide Web. An online form enables reporting all personnel activity of Clemson employees, including review, promotion, reclassification, termination, transfer, reallocation or demotion. DCIT leverages a solution from software maker SAS that helps access, manage, analyze and report on data to aid in decision-making. Gopher’s hierarchical structure provided a platform for the first large-scale electronic library connections.
1994 Output Rises An Electronic Forms Management System (EFMS), used to route and approve purchase orders, credit card payments and personnel requests, processes its 50,000th form. The electronic request system for library services processes its 20,000th request. DCIT installs large routers on its network, including fiber between campus and the Research Park, improving bandwidth. The mainframe computer now runs three processors. A Hitachi Data Systems EX-80 since 1990, it is upgraded to an EX-90 in May, then an EX-100 in August. A 1994 issue of the DCIT newsletter includes an introduction to Mozaic, the first Internet browser (shown above) that could display graphics and predecessor to Netscape Navigator.
1995 Email Improves A new campus email service featuring Post Office Protocol (POP3) introduces many of the mass email features that remain in present-day services, including the ability to download messages from a remote server, store them for reading later on the client computer, and delete them from remote and local computers. The system delivers around 22,000 messages per day. POP3, still one of the primary email protocols in use today, made it easy for anyone to check their email from any computer in the world.
1996 Library Leads Clemson Library purchases PC stations for public use, featuring a new “CU Explorer” interface to the catalog. Search access to the Web and remote databases include libraries for the universities of South Carolina and Georgia. DCIT begins preparing for Y2K (the turn-of-the century switch to a 4-digit calendar year) while moving offices to Martin Hall. A new Novell Network offers free storage space to every student and employee, Listserv enables email list management and Microsoft Office Pro is licensed for all users. A student works at a PC station in Cooper Library.
1997 IT Prospers The 7-year-old, power-hungry mainframe downsizes to an HDS Pilot 25, a refrigerator-sized enterprise computer by Hitachi. The Clemson Research Foundation pays $700,000 for two supercomputers, which were costing $15-30 million only a few years earlier. Students can check online for availability of computers in 28 labs across campus, while employees can manage their own payroll deductions and travel reimbursements. Dial-up network access converts to PPP, a protocol that links between peers in a network. ISD begins work on the state’s Medicaid Eligibility Determination System (MEDS), a project that more than doubles department size. A snapshot of a DCIT Newsletter article featuring the new HDS Pilot 25.
1998 Network Surges Clemson is a leader in academic technology after DCIT equips 49 classrooms and auditoriums with new systems and software. More computing labs (housing up to 120 systems), are funded by Clemson’s Research Foundation, thanks to its biggest revenue stream from DCIT-developed software. The Clemson computer network is featured on CNN’s Science and Technology program. After installation of residence hall Ethernet connections for over 6100 students, DCIT begins work on improving bandwidth due to overloaded circuits. DCIT’s innovation with Novell Networks software led to a development partnership with the company, generating large revenues for Clemson University.
1999 Toward An Enterprise Clemson transitions to PeopleSoft for resource management, beginning with payroll and personnel systems, followed by phase one of a new business systems (CUBS) project. DCIT Network Services rolls out an improved authentication process requiring a CU user name and password to access the Internet. A new instructional center for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) opens, and a home-grown Web application called “NetReg” automatically detects new devices on the Clemson network, redirecting their owners to a registration page. An early Clemson University web page included a link to this PeopleSoft portal.
2000 Aiding Academia A new DCIT training center also offers services in multimedia and web development. Academic departments can make real-time searches for available classrooms across campus, a third of which are now “IT Smart.” DCIT’s Collaborative Learning Environment introduces MyCLE, an online class management solution for students. The latest release of the Faculty Activity System empowers professors to track their efforts in teaching, research and advancement. Home page of the Clemson University website ( in June 2000.
2001 Wireless Spreads High speed wireless Internet, with over 50 access points on campus, now includes Brackett, Martin and Freeman halls, Cooper Library, Hendrix Student Center and the Madren Center. The colleges of Engineering, Business & Behavioral Science are first to require laptops for their students in the coming year. A Cyber Cafe opens on the fifth floor of Cooper Library, and DCIT, Clemson’s largest royalty owner, brings in $14 million for the software it licenses through the Research Foundation. The original Cyber Cafe at Cooper Library (shown in inset) was named Java City. Today it features Starbucks Coffee and two stories of seating.
2002 Return Of IBM After a 17-year run with Hitachi systems, Clemson replaces its mainframe with an IBM zSeries 800, increasing performance at a lower cost. DCIT rolls out an early data warehouse reporting system, allowing teachers to access basic student information. Skillsoft online learning offers 350 course units, and a laptop support center opens on Klugh Avenue (core campus). DCIT institutes a technology fee for students, covering Internet, classroom and lab support. Wireless Internet now has 110 access points, adding Vickery, Riggs, Rhodes, Sirrine, Kinard, Tillman and Dillard halls. The above snapshot is from an IBM zSeries 800 promotional brochure.
2003 Laptops For All With nearly all freshmen required to have laptops, DCIT recommends two IBM models, the ThinkPad R40 ($1,359) and the ThinkPad T40 ($2,045). Ubiquitous mobile computing brings new challenges in support, including rapid response to operating system bugs and major interruptions caused by software viruses. Over half of all classrooms now provide a range of “smart” technology, including PCs, VCRs, DVD players, video/data projectors, CATV, USB peripherals and computer connection points. Except for isolated pockets, wireless networking is available across the entire campus. The IBM Thinkpad T140 featured an Intel Pentium M 1.5 GHz CPU, 14.1″ TFT display, CD/DVD drive, built-in modem and wireless networking.
2004 Email For All Every Clemson student and employee now has an email account. Students enjoy a more convenient online registration system, easier to navigate and complemented by the addition of a Freshman Web Portal, which offers incoming freshman a one-stop experience with links to student services and a checklist of tasks and dates. DCIT mourns the loss of Vice Provost Dr. C.J. Duckenfield to cancer. In 2004, Eudora 5.1 was the recommended and supported email software at Clemson University.
2005 More Solutions DCIT develops a web application that allows departments to accept secure online credit card payments, and faculty and administrators can use a new application to check whether students have met course prerequisites. A new online center promotes network security, and distance education has been enhanced by new videoconferencing technology and a training center. The online University phonebook is upgraded for easy navigation, free printing is available in all DCIT public access labs, and a new ePortfolio tool is added to the student course management system. Clemson’s online phonebook was redesigned in 2005.
2006 The Current Era The 2006 hiring of Jim Bottum as new CIO and Vice Provost marks a symbolic gateway to Clemson’s current era in technology and computing. In one year’s time, the organization will change its name from DCIT to CCIT (Clemson Computing and Information Technology). After 10 years of service, Bottum will be succeeded in 2017 by Russell Kaurloto, the current leader of CCIT. The advancements and accomplishments of this new modern era will one day be further documented here as new chapters in CCIT history. For more about the work and structure of CCIT today, we invite you to visit our website at The CCIT logo with 1950 photograph of Tillman Hall in the background.