The 1982 HP grant, by 2002ís standards, was a rather pedestrian system: an HP3000 Series 44, a refrigerator size 1 MB RAM CPU unit with 2 120-MB disc packs (each the size of a two draw file cabinet). There were 15 "dumb" terminals hardwired to the system and a modem pool with a half dozen modems (mostly so some faculty could dial in from their offices). But, oh, what a powerful difference the system made in the development of the technological evolution of the School, with many interesting stories related to its planning, arrival, and implementation. And, an even more important political story related to the entire nature of computing on campus.
I recall very soon after my assuming the role of director that McLean and I met with OACís director, Bill Kehl. McLean had suggested that rather than GSM using its grant dollar to acquire terminals to be attached to the HP system, that GSM install a set of modems. Then the students could used the Decwriters and dial the HP instead of the IBM. We had even offered to negotiate a price to cover the lost revenue. Kehl was adamant in his response: if GSM acquired a HP system, OAC would close the North-Campus facility, greatly inconveniencing several hundred users. As it turned out, when we did install the HP in spring 1982, OAC came in and physically hardwired the Decwriters at 300 baud to the IBM mainframe, having them sit idle, rather than allow GSM to make use of these systems. In retrospect I can understand Kehlís position: this was the tip of an iceberg, and he was attempting to stop it before it sank his ship. Central mainframe computing was being threaten by distributed minicomputers, and with it there was the complete lost of control, revenue, and prestige of what was once a very hollowed operation .
Preparing the space for the arrival of our first computer was another challenge. I remember when the electrician came in to follow the HP power specs, they pulled a new separate subpanel into the adjoining room. We all laughed that they brought so much power into the area. Of course, the last laugh was on us; a few years later a second panel had to be installed. But it was the emergency buttons that were the real laugh. These are the big red button youíre to hit if there is an emergency to turn off the power. Well, it got installed and then, a couple years later when we had to move the system to the a connecting room which was larger, the buttons turned out to be in the wrong place: behind the door! When you opened the door it would swing around and hit the red button and turn off the power!!!! That only happen a couple times before the door stop was installed. And it took a couple years more to get the button moved to an opposite wall! At least with an existing raised floor, it made the wiring for the room very clean.
The air conditioning for that room was another challenge. The original WDPC had tons of power and its own independent air conditioning and blower system. Our first HP was fine with the ambient air. However, with the move to the next room, and the doubling of the amount of equipment, disc drives, communications equipment, controls, and the like, more air was required. So, an independent self contain unit was installed. Water piping and drains had to be moved into this previous office only area. The blower was installed on the ceiling, which for some unbelievable amount of time, dripped continuously, and of course equipment ended up being located directly under the drip.
An interesting note on the A/C. When we had the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the very first item to be fixed within the school was that air conditioning unit so that the HP system could be kept running 24/7. The HP became the communications link for the entire school, so its centrality was recognized.
There is a set of graphs included in the 1983 grant proposal describing system growth and usage in terms of connect time and CPU utilization.
After a couple years of hands-on hardware focus, the faculty moved the Managerial Computing course to a theoretical offering, which by the end of the decade had once again returned to an optional rather than required core course status.
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