50th Anniversary Showcase
School of Computing
14/01/2014: After a short meeting with Adele, Orla, Dan and Fred, the general idea is to have 5 "themes": hardware, software, artificial intelligence, internet (generally computer communication), gaming; split into 6 decade groups: 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, the future; and with three facets: technological advancements (world), application (in society, human advancement, etc.), Kent (specific contributions or derivatives).
14/01/2014: The further categories of research and teaching (esp programming languages used) have been added
Usage guidance: Try and collect main ideas on this page; anything else feel free to break out (with a [/foopage:foo desc] type link). This content is intended for Adele to use, and ultimately disseminated to the public, so please keep descriptions and whatnot free of technical jargon, etc.
- 1966 - University acquires its first computer, a second-hand Elliott 803, installed in the Physics department.
- 1967 - Access to the University of London's Atlas computer.
- 1968 - Opening of the Cornwallis Building, which housed the new 'Computing Laboratory'.
- 1969 - NCR-Elliott 4130 (ICL 4130) is installed running ICL batch and the locally developed Kent On-Line System (KOS).
- - Link to Wye College and to the University of London's CDC 6600.
- 1970 - The memory of the NCR/Elliott 4130 was increased and 4 multi-access consoles were attached.
- 1971 - The memory of the 4130 was further enlarged to 64K, 3 magnetc disc units were acquired and a further 4 consoles were attached.
- 1973 - University acquires a second (used) 4130.
- 1973 - Computing Laboratory acquires its first PDP-11 (16 bit minicomputer) for use in CS teaching, running DOS/BATCH.
1974 - Collapse of the Cornwallis building The south west corner of Cornwallis, which housed the Computing Laboratory collapsed after the railway tunnel it was built over, subsides. Facilities for computing briefly interrupted. Pictures available from Bob Eager (R.D.Eager@kent.ac.uk).
- - An additional 148K of memory plus 4 disc handlers for the Elliott 4130 were installed. - A DEC PDP 11 satellite computer supporting 34 multi-access consoles was also added to the 4130. (picture of the UG PDP 11 in the 1974 UG Prospectus).
1976 - University acquires the replacement for the 4130s - an ICL 2960 mainframe. More details from Bob Eager (R.D.Eager@kent.ac.uk) if required.
- - Access to London's CDC 7600 super-computer established.
- 1977 - A PDP 11/40 running UNIX was installed.
- - Access to Canbridge University's IMB 370/165 was provided.
- 1978 - Work started to develop a local area network based on Cambridge University's experimental Token Ring network.
- 1979 - Computing Laboratory acquires a VAX-11/780 to run UNIX.
- 1980 (?) - Several Apple II computers acquired running UCSD Pascal and Modula-2 (research and student projects).
- The Cambridge Ring LAN became fully operational.
- 1981 Work started onconnecting the Ring LAN to BT's packet switched network by developing an X25 gateway.
1982 (?) - Mass introduction of BBC Micros for Computing laboratory public terminal rooms, running customised terminal emulator ROM by Bob Eager (R.D.Eager@kent.ac.uk).
- - Local networking expanded to support the Chemistry Lab., the Physiscs Lab., Rutherford College, and the Registry. (Photo UP 1982 p 114).
- 1983 - ICL 2960 upgraded to dual OCP (dual CPU); spare CPU was previously used for the last Census.
- - The Ring LAN running ay 10 million bits/second. - Access to Oxford University's ICL 2800. - PERQ computer/work station and a laser printed acquired for resech use.
- 1984 (?) - Computing laboratory acquires a number of Unix workstations including machines from Sun Microsystems, Digital and Three Rivers (PERQ).
- 1985 - Computing Laboratory acquires a Macintosh Plus and its first (very) few PCs.
- - Terminal rooms are set up in all four colleges.
- 1985-89 - Computing Lab acquires a MEiKO Computing Surface, a parallel computer initially with 20 T414 (first generation) transputers growing to 185 T800s (second generation). Funded entirely through research grants, this was made open access for all research groups at Kent and undergraduate and taught Master's projects (see "Internet" below).
1986 - ICL 2960 replaced by VAXcluster of three machines - VAX 8800 (Saturn), and two VAX 8200 machines (Janus and Titan). Managed by Bob Eager (R.D.Eager@kent.ac.uk)
- - Terminal rooms set up in the University Library.
- 1987 - The Queen a new linked building that provided a lecture theater, offices and a common room on the ground floor and 8 terminal rooms on the upper floor.(Photo UP 1987 p16, C34-35)
- - An Amdahl Cray-1 system at ULCC becomes available for use.
- 1988 - There were 600 terminal connections to UKCNET connect to the Computing Lab machine room and on to national computing facilities. (Photo UP 1988 pp 16-17)
- - UKCNET ?
- 1989 - There were 800 terminals, 22 hours a day service.
- - Darwin College provided study bedroom micro-computer terminals
- 1991 - Many more PCs introduced.
- 1992 - VAXcluster replaced by a single smaller VAX (Sirius).
- 1992 - Increased use of Ethernet as the Cambridge Ring is phased out.
- 1966 - Elliott provided an assembler,a simple autocode and an Algol 60 compiler. There was no operating system.
1967 - Peter Brown brings his Ph.D. project - ML/I - to Kent. See Bob Eager's website: http://www.ml1.org.uk
- 1969 - Kent On Line System (KOS) developed to support eight interactive terminals, mostly housed in what is now the School of Computing foyer. KOS taken up by a number of other universities. Terminal multiplex software developed principally by Brian Spratt; Master Control Program (scheduler etc.) by Peter Brown; user interface and API by Heather Brown; BASIC compiler by Steve Binns.
- 1973 - KOS now used in 15 other sites.
1975 - Computing Laboratory installs first production version of Unix, developed at Bell Labs. This ran on a PDP-11/40 with 128kW of memory, with two 2.4MB exchangeable disks. Pictures from Bob Eager (R.D.Eager@kent.ac.uk).
- 1976 - BASIC compiler for ICL 2900 series (VME/K and VME/B) developed by Peter Brown and Steve Binns.
1979 - Computing Laboratory switches operating system on ICL 2960 from VME/K to the Edinburgh Multi Access System (EMAS), developed at the University of Edinburgh. Much local development and fixing by Bob Eager (R.D.Eager@kent.ac.uk).
- 1981 - Prof. David Turner releases KRC, the Kent Recursive Calculator, a lazy functional language based on SASL, with pattern matching, guards and ZF expressions (now more usually called list comprehensions).
- 1982 - ? Pascal replaces Algol 60 as the main language for teaching undergraduates.
- - Simula 67 used in undergraduate courses.
- Prof. Peter Brown releases the Guide hypertext system, later sold commercially by Office Workstations Ltd (OWL). Bob Eager (R.D.Eager@kent.ac.uk) probably has some source code.
- - Simula 67 used in undergraduate courses.
- 1983 - Several projects to develop software tools for unix systems, and a library of Fortran software were underway.
- 1985 - Prof. David Turner releases prototype version of the functional programming language Miranda.
- 1987 - Occam used in courses in undergraduate courses
1996 - Computing Lab takes over maintenance of the occam2 parallel processing language (from INMOS) as open-source project. Language ported from transputers to VAX, 68000 and DEC Alpha. Language development - supported by research projects, PhDs, research Masters and BSc final year projects - continuous to present day (2014), leading to development of occam-pi.
- 2011 - Development of the CCSP multicore scheduler, initially for occam-pi. This is still (2014) the fastest and most effective multicore scheduler on the planet, possibly by an order of magnitude.
- 2015 onwards - design rationalisation of occam-pi, introduction of formal verification assertions (supported by model-checking, enabling programmers to do formal analysis as part of normal programming activity and without needing expertise in the underlying mathematics).
- Very limited computer-to-computer communication.
- 2400 baud modems even exist? No....V.22bis, the standard, was not developed until 1984. And it was 600 baud, 2400 bits/second (baud is NOT bits/second).
- Acoustic couplers running at 300 bits/second were available.
- 1977 - EPSS (packet-switching) goes public.
- 1979 - First UUCP emails in UK; email link to Bell Labs (US).
1979 - Cambridge Ring network installed in time to support the roll-out of the EMAS service (on the ICL 2960) on 16th December 1979. Kent was the first university to provide networked access to its servers as a user service rather than a research project. Details of Ring available from Matt Lee, the person who built the hardware. Contact vis Ian Utting (I.A.Utting@kent.ac.uk).
- 1986 - MEiKO Computing Surface (see "Hardware" above) connected to the Cambridge Ring (via hardware and software developed at Kent), providing the first network-access multi-user dynamically configurable parallel computing service in the country (and, probably, the world).
- early 90s - EUnet ISP spun out. Later sold to a Californian company for a lovely Amish quilt! And rather a lot of money.
- Anything outside of Xerox PARC?
- Pong, the first 'arcade' game that did successfully. Atari 2600 was one of the first consoles, but was nothing like a large arcade machine, just a box with knobs! In 1977, the large number of pong clones created a crash in the market. A third year student should easily be able to make a clone using an arduino, two knobs and the TVOut library (two resistors and a jumper wire connected to a coax should do it).
Zork one of the earliest interactive fiction computer games comes about. Written at MIT and ran on a PDP-10. This was inspired by Colossal Cave Adventure, released a few years before. Colossal Cave is available - ask Bob Eager (R.D.Eager@kent.ac.uk) inter alia.
- Games like space invaders and pacman are released, then came asteroids (super mario brothers came at the end of the decade). This was the golden age of gaming with the classic looking arcade machine.
- Afternoon, a story (hyperfiction) released in 1987.
MUD1 (developed at Essex in 1979, but written in the 80's) is the first true multiuser dungeon as we know it. It ran on the JAnet network for years (the network that connects up the universities in the UK, Aberystwyth in 1988 developed their own version which ones like TinyMud today are based on.
- ZX Spectrum released in 1982, followed by various revisions (and clones) up to to the ZX Spectrum +3 (with a floppy-drive!) in 1987.
- Playstation 1 released, Super Nintendo released. The gameboy arrived technically in 1989, but only came to Europe at the start of the 90's. 1998 was the release of the colour gameboy. We can easily emulate these on arcade boxes if wanted. Or we attempt to pick up some of the old consoles? (might be difficult as retro gaming has become popular).
Sixth generation consoles released, with the PlayStation 2 in 2000 (greatest selling console so far and I still have one). Built in DVD drives, hard disks are the main hardware pushes (as well as obvious graphic improvements). Internet shows up with XBOX live.
- 2004 is the release of World of Warcraft
- I think I have access to an Oculus Rift (I am caretaker-ing it for Geek), this is a upcoming virtual reality headset for games.
- 1968 - Research topics: Numerical approximation theory, List processing languages.
1969 - Development of the Kent Online System (KOS)(see under Software) as a funded research project. Used by a number of universities, providing basic interactive facilities. Bob Eager (R.D.Eager@kent.ac.uk) may have some documentation. It included text editing and a BASIC compiler.
- - Peter Brown published: A survey of macro processors, American Review of Automatic Programming.
- 1970 - Research Topics: Peter Brown on Macro Processors, Mike Garside published book chapters on Numerical Methods for Actuarial Students.
- 1971 - Peter Brown, together with Heather Brown and Mike Garside, published on Multi Access Systems.
- - Peter Brown also on the desin and use of the ML/1 Macro Processor. - Mike Garside published on computational methods for Statistical calculations.
- 1972 - Work on macros and software portability continued with Peter Brown publishing in Communications of the ACM and making several contributions to monographs. He also published work on On-line systems and on the development of software to aid the process of software development. The latter being published in Software Practice and Experience.
- 1973 - Peter Brown contributed two papers to the Computer Journal on the themes of computer language development and software development.
- 1974 - Peter Brown published a paper on "programming and documenting software projects".
- 1975 - Peter Welch contributed a conference paper on lambda Calculus.
- - Ian Dallas and Mike Garside contribute a paper on the development of Front-end Processors to a conference on microprocessors.
- - Elizabeth Oxborrow publish work on computer education.
- 1984 to present - concurrency: languages (occam), libraries (JCSP/CCSP/C++CSP/CHP), schedulers, theory (verification of design patterns, fast resolution of general CSP choice), applications (vision processing, operating systems, real-time systems, complex system modelling).
- 1998 Richard Jones co-founds the ACM/SIGPLAN International Symposium on Memory Management.
- 2002 GCspy heap visualisation tool for the collection, transmission, storage and replay of memory manager behaviour.
2004 Garbage Collection & Memory Management Summer School held at Kent with leading presenters from industry and academia.
Teaching (esp programming languages used)
1968 (?) - First degree programmes: Computing & Cybernetics (20% from Electronics), Computer Systems Engineering (50% from Electronics).
- 1969 - Steve Binns develops interactive BASIC system for use on KOS.
- 1969 - main languages on 4130 (apart from BASIC) are batch-driven ALGOL 60 and FORTRAN IV.
- 1972 - Peter Brown develops SCAN - a text processing language aimed at Humanities students (see Research).
- 1975 - UNIX makes appearance at Kent, in July. Runs on a PDP-11/40 with 112k words of memory. Two 2.4MB disks.
1975 (?) - Computer Science degree programme replaces Computing & Cybernetics.
- 1980 - adoption of Pascal as first-year teaching language (it must be that late as Bob Eager was teaching them BASIC until then)
- 1981 (?) - adoption of KRC as supporting language for functional programming teaching.
- 1985 (?) - adoption of Miranda as supporting language for functional programming teaching (replacing KRC).
- 1986-2013 - adoption of occam2 (later occam-pi) as supporting language for concurrency teaching.
- 1989 (?) - adoption of Haskell as supporting language for functional programming teaching (replacing Miranda).
- 1994 - adoption of Modula-3 as first-year teaching language (replacing Pascal).
- 1996 (?) - adoption of Java as first-year teaching language (replacing Modula-3).
- 1998 - Kent becomes Authorised Academic Java Campus Kent becomes the first European university to be recognised as an Authorised Academic Java Campus, reflecting the University's position as a 'first-tier' university in Computer Science.
- ?? - David Barnes and Michael Kolling's books on Java.
- 2014 - adoption of Erlang as supporting language for a combined functional programming and concurrency module (replacing separate modules with Haskell and occam-pi).
I thought it might be worth listing people likely to have long memories whom we might want to get involved with this project.
- In the Lab: IAU, GEWT, JDB, SJT, REJ, PHW, MCW, RDE
Heather Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org), Jane Millyard
Peter Collinson (email@example.com), Steve Binns
- Peter Houlder, Peter Linington (re EUnet)
- David Wood, David Bateman (PHW is in contact)