First computer IBM-360

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First Computer at IIT Kanpur

First Computer at IIT Kanpur is the IBM 1620 that was brought in 1963. The initial computer-science courses were started at IIT Kanpur in August 1963 on an IBM 1620 system installed in the India's first "computer classroom". In 1971, the institute began an independent academic program in Computer Science and Engineering, leading to M.Tech. and Ph.D. degrees.

Computer Science and History

Computer Centre at IIT Kanpur was established in 1963 to serve the computing needs of faculty members and students for their research and teaching. Under the guidance of John Kenneth Galbarth, IIT Kanpur became the first institute in India to offer Computer Science education. Around July, 1963 IBM 1620 was brought to IIT Kanpur with a FORTRAN compiler installed. The IBM 1620 was imported with financial assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) which channelled the funding through the Kanpur Indo‐American Program (KIAP). KIAP was a consortium of nine major US Universities which assisted establishment of the IIT at Kanpur by sending visiting faculty members and by assisting in the purchase of equipment. One of the major decisions taken by KIAP was to install a computer at IITK. In 1963, the IBM 1620 was a popular computer used by a number of universities in the USA. It was a small digit oriented computer with a 60K digit main memory, three tape drives and a punched card reader/writer. The punched outputs as well as programs punched on cards were printed with an IBM 407 accounting machine.

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Early Computers at IIT Kanpur

Besides this there were 20 key punch machines. The IBM 1620 was installed and maintained by IBM engineers (Indians trained by the IBM). KIAP sent Harry D.Huskey of the University of California, Berkeley, and Forman S.Acton and Irving Rabinowitz from the Princeton University to educate the faculty and students of IITK on using the computer. As soon as the IBM 1620 started working a ten day intensive course on programming for the faculty of IITK was designed by this group. Huskey took a proactive step and instead of restricting the course to IITK faculty, he invited scientists, engineers, and the faculty members of other institutions in India to attend the course. Each course had around 60 participants who were given hands on experience in FORTRAN programming and numerical methods. These courses which started in 1963 were conducted thrice a year. The course was so popular that it was continued till 1975 by the IITK faculty after the American Professors left in 1965. Over 1500 scientists working in a number of Universities and research laboratories were trained. IITK also pioneered by introducing in 1964 a compulsory course in programming and numerical methods to all engineering students. The IBM 1620 was used 24 x 7 and all students had free access to it. Soon the IBM 1620 was saturated and IITK bought an IBM 7044 in 1966, followed by IBM 1401 (with funds provided by the Government of India).

Educational Purposes

The computer was being used for approximately four hours a day for about a month back when it was first introduced. However, its usage increased to eight to twelve hours a day as a result of an under-graduate course taught by Prof. Acton. The use of the machine shot up further to practically 24 hours a day, by February, 1964 because of the popularity of the computer with the Faculty members and outside organizations and because of the organization of a series of intensive courses. In its early days, the primary use of the machine was as a teaching tool, with nearly all of its time being devoted to under-graduate course work. Partly as a result of the training provided by the intensive courses (of which five have so far been given), and partly by the Institute's policy of encouraging use of the machine by non-IIT research workers, the balance has shifted from about 80% teaching to nearly 80% research applications.

References

History of Computing in India by Rajaraman
Computer Centre
Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
CSE, IIT Kanpur

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