Computer Science Golden Jubilee

Memories and History

Use the tabs below to learn about some of the major milestones in the university's history of computer science and computer technology.  As you can see, we've created space for Alumni memories, too.  If you have anecdotes and/or pictures to share from working with computers while a student or in your career, please send them by email to  Please include your full name, major(s) and year(s) of graduation and we’ll include them in our companion Computer Science Golden Jubilee News and Memory Blog

We are also creating a display of computer artifacts on campus.  If you have old equipment that you would like to donate to the Computer Science department, please email Rhonda Grayson or give her a call at (573) 341-4492 to let us know what you have and to make arrangements for shipping.


  • 1950s & 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s
  • 1990s
  • 2000s
  • 2010s
  • Alumni Memories
  • Whozit Whatzit

1950s & 1960s


The University of Missouri-Rolla introduced the first course in computer science in 1957 and added extensive course offerings in computer science at both the graduate and undergraduate level before degrees in computer science were offered. 
[UM--Rolla: a history of MSM/UMR; by Christensen, Lawrence O. and Jack B. Ridley, 1983]


Professor Ralph Lee is one of 12 faulty members in the United States to receive special training in computers at the National Bureau of Standards. The campus computer center is established with a grant from the National Science Foundation.



In 1960, the MSM Computer Center is founded, providing a fundamental academic and research support facility for a school with an engineering emphasis. Mathematics professor, Dr. Ralph Lee, is named director of the center, which was created with the assistance of a grant from the National Science Foundation.    [UM--Rolla: a history of MSM/UMR; by Christensen, Lawrence O. and Jack B. Ridley, 1983]

Dr. Lee is pictured here with an LGP-30, standing for Librascope General Purpose and then Librascope General Precision, an early off-the-shelf computer. It was manufactured by the Librascope company of Glendale, California (a division of General Precision Inc.), and sold and serviced by the Royal Precision Electronic Computer Company, a joint venture with the Royal McBee division of the Royal Typewriter Company. The LGP-30 was first manufactured in 1956 with a retail price of $47,000—equivalent to about $408,000 today.  [Thanks, Fred Plassman, a 1962 Mathematics major, who was President of the first student ACM chapter at Rolla for providing the details on the Librascope.]


The 1961 Rollamo yearbook notes that both the Math and Electrical Engineering Departments offered computer classes in the 1960-61 school year.

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) student chapter is established in 1961.  It was the 2nd student ACM chapter in the United States.  Dr. Ralph Lee, who joined the faculty as a professor of Mathematics in 1946, is the advisor for the chapter.


  Eventually, the Librascope was replaced with an IBM 1620 shown here.  From left to right are Herb Alcorn, student Larry Clark (seated) and Dr. Ralph Lee.  (Thanks to Susan Hanson Klemmer for identifying Larry.) Herb Alcorn earned an M.S. in Mathematics.  His 1964 thesis, which can be found in the Curtis Wilson Library, was titled, "The effect of matrix condition in the solution of a system of linear algebraic equations."

Can anyone provide details on when the machine was installed?


A Master of Science degree in Computer Science is authorized by the university.

In the 1964 Rollamo, a description of the Electrical Engineering department notes:  "Frequent revisions in the curriculum and in the content of various courses makes possible the inclusion of recently developed topics such as analogue and digital computers, solid state devices including transistors and crystal diodes, modern circuit analysis, and servomechanisms...The ground floor laboratory has been remodeled into a feedback control systems area where an extensive analogue computing facility is being installed."



First CS Graduates Define Our Golden Jubilee Initialization Year!

Larry Clark and Robert DeLozier become the first two students to graduate from Missouri S&T (then known as UMR) with degrees in Computer Science.  DeLozier, left, was Treasurer of the ACM chapter for the 1964-65 school year.  Clark, right, was the President of the ACM chapter at the same time. 

Both Larry and Robert are deceased.  We would welcome any information about their careers and/or contact information for their families.




A Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science is authorized by the university. 

Ten more students graduate with master's degrees in Computer Science.  Three are women:  Susan Hanson Klemmer, Siew-Pin “Sharon” Siao, and Linda Vopat Weber.  Susan Hanson, pictured here, was the ACM Secretary in 1965.‌


1st Chair of the CS Dept   Computer Science, previously a discipline within Mathematics, becomes its own department, located in Harris Hall.  Dr. Billy E. Gillett is the first Computer Science Department Chair.  Gillett is chair from 1968-1972.

 ‌Computer Center at UMR (1968)

  A quote from the 1968 UMR brochure lists “an IBM 360/50 with 262,144 bytes of core storage and 42,500,000 bytes of disk storage.” The early curriculum stressed mathematical methods, linear programming, time sharing, and hybrid computation.





The present-day Computer Science building is constructed in 1971.  The Mathematics and Computer Science departments move there from Harris Hall in time for the Fall 1972 semester.  The showpiece of the building is an IBM 360/50 with 262,144 bytes of core storage and 42,500,000 bytes of disk storage.

Can anyone provide details on any follow-on computers beyond the 360?



CS dept chair from sometime in 1970s:  John Hamblen   Dr. John Hamblen becomes chair of the computer science department.  He is chair from 1972-1981.


In 1972-1973, the computer science department has 14 faculty members and confers 67 bachelor's and 25 master's degrees.  
[UM--Rolla: a history of MSM/UMR; by Christensen, Lawrence O. and Jack B. Ridley, 1983]


  Grace Hopper visits the university in the spring semester of 1974.



The Ph.D. for computer science is authorized.


  First Computer Science Doctorate Student Oct 1977 UMR Alumnus "Patricia McAdams, our first Ph.D. graduate"





“The 360/50 was decommissioned on May 17, 1980 and replaced with an IBM 4331 bought online 2 days later” (source Computer Center newsletter, Sept 1980)


The campus purchases $1.2 million in hardware to begin the integration of the most advanced computer graphics education into the undergraduate engineering curricula. Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Manufacturing or CAD/CAM equipment enables students to produce in a short time, high quality and sophisticated engineering drawings at a computer terminal instead of at a drafting table.

  Dr. Arlan DeKock, who joined the faculty in 1968, becomes chair of the CS Department in 1981.  He serves as chair until 1993.  He will later become the founding Dean of the School of Management and Information Systems.  Dr. DeKock retired from the university in 2006. and continues to make his home in Rolla, MO.  We are pleased to honor him at the Arlan DeKock Recognition Dinner that will begin the CS Golden Jubilee Kickoff at Homecoming 2015.


A robot is added to the CAD/CAM operation. A grant of $250,000 from NSF directed by Dr. Thomas R. Faucett, professor of mechanical engineering, will aid in developing the full capabilities of the CAD/CAM system.

The UMR Computer Science department is ranked in the top 8% of the United States and Dr. Arlan DeKock is chairman.  David Dearth is the director of the Computer Center and Otho R. Plummer is Director of Computing and Information Systems.
[Stated in UM--Rolla: a history of MSM/UMR; by Christensen, Lawrence O. and Jack B. Ridley, 1983 but no specific source for the department ranking was cited.]


UMR Leads State in Producing Computer Scientists    



  The Stonehenge in Rolla, a partial reconstruction of Stonehenge, the ancient megalith located on Salisbury Plain 75 miles Southwest of London, is dedicated on June 20, 1984 (summer solstice), at the site of the northwest edge of campus (14th Street and Bishop Avenue).  Prior to its construction, key university faculty and staff involved in the project noted the megalith's pre-figuring role as a computer.  Dr. Joseph Senne, then chairman of the University of Missouri-Rolla civil engineering department, and an astronomer, said,
"The people who constructed it stored a great deal of knowledge about the sun and moon in it. It could be used to predict seasonal changes, eclipses and moon phases, making it a sophisticated computer for the ages." 
Similarly, Joseph D. Wollard, UMR executive director of administrative services and chairman of the UMR-Stonehenge committee, remarked on the location of the Rolla replica of Stonehenge: 
"It will place a simulation of an ancient computer in close proximity to UMR's modern computer facilities in the Mathematics-Computer Science Building.  Given UM-Rolla's emphasis on engineering and the sciences it was felt that a monument such as UMR-Stonehenge would be a particularly appropri- ate and valuable addition to campus. 




CS Dept chair from 1994-1999: George Zobrist   Dr. George Zobrist becomes chair of the Computer Science Department and serves in this capacity until 1999.  He inaugurates the Computer Science Advisory Board, a group of people from multiple industries who provide advice to the department.  Advisory Board members serve at the invitation of the chair, and there are no fixed terms.  The board is comprised of both alumni and those who are not.



Dr. Daniel St. Clair is named chair of the computer science Department, a position he held until his death in 2005.   St. Clair earned his Ph.D. in mathematics with a concentration in computer science in 1975 from Missouri S&T, then known as UMR, and joined the faculty in 1978 as an assistant professor of computer science.  His research interests were in the areas of machine intelligence, data mining, neural networks, and databases. He also conducted research in automated detection and evaluation of rail defects, nondestructive evaluation of aerospace structures , and intelligent intruder etection in computer networks.

The Academy of Computer Science is founded during Dr. St. Clair's chairmanship. He also initiates the first endowed Professorship in the Computer Science Department, which was later named in his honor.






Dr. Ali Hurson becomes Chair of the computer science department in January 2008, and serves through 2012.  Hurson is the first Ph.D. graduate from the University of Central Florida (1980) and the first recipient of a Ph.D. in computer science from the state of Florida.  His research has focused on the design and analysis of computerarchitectures, multidatabases, application of mobile agent technology, mobile databases, mobile and pervasive computing and global information sharing environments.




Dr. Sajal Das is named chair of the Computer Science Department effective September 1, 2013.  He also holds the Daniel St. Clair endowed chair.  Thanks to Dr. Das for identifying the opportunity to celebrate a Missouri S&T Computer Science Golden Jubilee.

Das earned a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Central Florida in 1988, a master of science degree in computer science from Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore in 1984, and bachelor of science and bachelor of technology degrees in physics and computer science in 1980 and 1983, respectively, both from Calcutta University.  His broad research interests include wireless and sensor networks, mobile and pervasive computing, cyber-physical systems and smart environments, healthcare and sustainability, distributed and cloud computing, security and privacy, social networks, systems biology, applied game theory, and graph theory.

Alumni Memories

Alumni Memories

Alumni from all majors, and others associated with the university, are encouraged to share their campus and career memories of using or working with computers.  These stories are being posted on our Computer Science Golden Jubilee News and Memories Blog, a companion to the website you are currently viewing.  The blog also includes news articles about the Golden Jubilee.

If you have a story or photo to share, please send it to: .  Be sure to include your full name, your relationship to Missouri University of Science and Technology (e.g. alum, faculty, staff, student), your major and year of graduation if you are an alum (or expected date of graduation if you are a student), and your email so we can contact you if we have any questions. 


Recent Alumni Memories Headlines

Remembering Grace Hopper's 1974 Visit to Campus
Posted, Fri Aug 28 at 1:05:32 PM by leittermanp
Alumni Memories from Bob Gabler Editor's Note: Grace Hopper (December 9, 1906 - January 1, 1992) was an American ...

DataTerminals – Predecessors of Personal Computers, Part 2 of 2: HP 2647A
Posted Mon Aug 10 2015 at 12:54:58 PM by leittermanp
Alumni Memories from Pam (Thebeau) Leitterman The top of the line end-user product for the 264X series was the 2647A ...

DataTerminals – Predecessors of Personal Computers, Part 1 of 2: HP 2640/44/45
Posted Mon Aug 10 2015 at 12:54:20 PM by leittermanp
Alumni Memories from Pam  (Thebeau) Leitterman In July 1979, I embarked on an almost 28-year career with Hewlett-Packard. In my ...

Taking a Look Inside the IBM 650
Posted Thu Jul 30 2015 at 12:54:20 PM by leittermanp
Alumni Memories from Les Blumberg I returned to Rolla in 1964 to work on my MSEE.  At the time I was on educational leave from IBM ...

Aerospace Computers and University Computers - 1960s
Posted Tue Jul 28 2015 at 7:03:41 PM by leittermanp
Alumni Memories from Bruce A. Warren I graduated with my BSEE in 1969.  I took my first programming course in 1966.  I have no ...

Whozit Whatzit

Whozit Whatzit

We've created a Whozit Whatzit section on the blog with computer related pictures from a variety of sources for which we need assistance in identifying people and equipment.  Scroll the complete Whozit Whatzit section of the blog or click on one of the recent links below.  Use the comments field for each post to share what you know about the pictures.  Please note that comments are moderated to weed out spammers, but genuine comments are most welcome and will be posted upon review.

Recent Whozit Whatzit Headlines

Can you identify these people from the 1971 Rollamo?

Can you identify these people from the 1967 Rollamo?

Can you identify these people from the 1965 Rollamo?

Can you identify these people from the 1964 Rollamo?

Can you identify these people from the 1963 Rollamo?