Department History

The Department of Computing Science is one of seven departments in the Faculty of Science at the University of Alberta. It was formed on April 1, 1964 with five academic staff and a secretary.

Now, just over 40 years later, there is an academic staff of almost 50 and approximately the same number of administrative and technical assistants and postdoctoral fellows. There are flexible undergraduate degrees allowing students to pursue their personal interests, a thesis-based MSc program, and a flourishing PhD program.

The Department is located in historic Athabasca Hall, the first University building on the campus, which was built in 1911 and completely restored in the late 1970s. A Computing Science Centre containing student and research laboratories and lecture and meeting rooms and adjoined to the back of the building was opened in 2001.

The LGP-30 was the University of Alberta's first computer and was in service from 1957 until 1963. Now you can find computers of many kinds, using various operating systems throughout the University. The applications and adaptability of computing has changed through the years. Computers are now used in almost every facet of the university’s operations and research. The world-wide reliance on computing has made the research in our Department invaluable.

The Department is proud of their contributions in the many fields of computing including artificial intelligence, robotics, and software engineering.

A more detailed history of the Department written in 2014 is A Short History of Computing Science at the University of Alberta (PDF, 285kb) by Keith Smillie, Professor Emeritus of Computing Science.

Partial Chronology

2000

  • 2013 - H. James Hoover Chair
  • 2008 - Mike MacGregor Chair
  • 2008 - Opening of the new historical display of Computing Science in Athabasca Hall
  • 2007 - Checkers is solved by Jonathan Schaeffer; First Man-Machine Limit Poker Tournament
  • 2006 - Department begins to podcast undergraduate courses
  • 2005 - Jonathan Schaeffer appointed Acting Chair; Jonathan Schaeffer appointed Chair in July
  • 2004 - Renée Elio Acting Chair (2nd Term); Randy Goebel Chair
  • 2003 - Paul Sorenson Acting Chair (1st Term)
  • 2002 - Launch of the Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Machine Learning
  • 2001 - Computing Science Centre opened (June); Move to Athabasca Hall completed (1st Term)

1990

  • 1998 - Randy Goebel Chair; RIMS Lab opens; SGI Cray Origin 2000; VizRoom; Construction on the new Computing Science Centre begun
  • 1997 - WestMOST M.Sc. in Information Technology approved; Move to Athabasca Hall begins
  • 1996 - HP Imaging Lab opens
  • 1995 - Paul Sorenson reappointed Chair
  • 1994 - Tamur Özsu Acting Chair; Chinook wins World Checkers Championship
  • 1993 - 25th Anniversary Celebrations
  • 1992 - Undergraduate labs transferred, HP 9000/720 installed; Industrial Internship Program
  • 1991 - President's Advisory Committee on Campus Reviews (PACCR); Last VAX-11/780 retired
  • 1990 - Silicon Graphics 4D/340S; Chinook places 2nd against human players; Internet connection

1980

  • 1989 - Paul Sorenson Chair; Myrias SPS-2; Chinook wins World Computer Checkers
  • 1988 - Bob Crawford Acting Chair; Space in Assiniboia Hall vacated
  • 1987 - Instructional Support Group formed; MIPS M/1000
  • 1986 - PDP-11/45 retired
  • 1985 - XEROX 1186 Lisp workstations
  • 1984 - Space acquired in Central Academic Building
  • 1983 - Lee White Chair; First Retreat
  • 1982 - Wayne Davis Acting Chair; Space acquired in Assiniboia Hall
  • 1981 - Wayne Jackson Acting Chair; First VAX-11/780; Importance of Computing Science recognized by Planning and Priorities Committee
  • 1980 - PDP-9 retired

1970

  • 1979 - SOBF replaced by remote-access terminals
  • 1978 - TI 990/4, Norpak VDP-1
  • 1977 - John Tartar Chair; PDP-11/60
  • 1976 - John Tartar Acting Chair; First FSO appointed
  • 1975 - PDP-11/04, IBM 5100
  • 1974 - Nanodata QM-1
  • 1973 - First two PhD degrees; Data General Nova 2/4; UNIX installed
  • 1972 - Arthur Wouk Chair; First APO; Interdata 3 and 4, PDP-8 and 8/L
  • 1971 - John Penny Acting Chair; PDP-11/451
  • 1970 - Computing Centre and Computing Science become separate units; PDP-9

1960

  • 1969 - Student Oriented Batch Facility (SOBF) implemented
  • 1968 - Department moved to General Services Building; First BSc degree; PhD program approved
  • 1967 - IBM 360/67 installed
  • 1966 - Honors program listed in Calendar
  • 1965 - First new appointments to Academic Staff
  • 1964 - Department of Computing Science formed, (Don Scott Chair); IBM 7040
  • 1963 - Closed-shop operation of Computing Centre; LGP-30 retired
  • 1962 - IBM 1620 upgraded; First academic appointments; First MSc degrees
  • 1961 - Second LGP-30 rented for three months; IBM 1620
  • 1960 - Computing Centre formed, Don Scott Director

1950

  • 1958 - First computing course
  • 1958 - LGP-30 becoming more widely used in University
  • 1957 - Committee on Electronic Equipment formed; LGP-30 installed

Chronology compiled by Dr. Keith Smillie, Professor Emeritus, Department of Computing Science.