Computers from the 50s and 60s black and white collage
The Digital Revolution
Trinity led the local scene in computer use
Friday, June 7, 2019

“The calculator can type letters five times as rapidly as a human secretary and is prone to neither fatigue nor coffee breaks.” - 1961 Trinitonian 

Trinity was ahead of the curve when, in 1960, the mathematics department acquired a rebuilt Royal Precision Digital LGP-30 model at the discounted price of $18,000, compared to its $50,000 going rate. The size of an office desk, a 1960 Trinitonian article noted that “its relative compactness is one of its chief advantages.”

While it was mainly used by faculty and graduate students for research projects, the computer also allowed Trinity to offer courses in elementary and advanced computer programming, the first available at any college or university in San Antonio. It was particularly suited for the performance of long, complicated mathematical operations that would take hours, if not days, to work by hand. The computer was also used to type letters “informing high school seniors of educational opportunities on the Skyline Campus.”

In 1966, Trinity rented a high-speed IBM 1800 computer, thanks to a $75,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Installed in the new engineering science building, the computer allowed Trinity to automate many campus operations, such as payroll distributions, account records, and data processing for laboratory experiments.

Two years later, with the completion of the Ewing Halsell Administrative Studies Center, Trinity purchased an IBM Model 3 60-44—the first series to employ integrated circuits rather than transistors. This opened a wide field of educational uses. Trinity was one of the first universities in the country to move course registration into the digital realm, conducting its first partially automated registration process in May 1968 using computer punch cards. President Laurie said that the new technology “had its problems” but on the whole promised to be a more efficient method of registration.

LeeRoy Tiger is Trinity's lovable mascot, spreading #TigerPride wherever he goes.

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