One was in the basement of Phillips Hall. The other, in Research Triangle Park, filled a room the size of a basketball court and held only a half-megabyte of data — an average iPhone can hold more than 32,000 times as much information.
This academic year, the Department of Computer Science is celebrating its 50th birthday. Founded in 1964 by Frederick Brooks, it was one of the first independent computer science programs in the nation.
“People don’t realize it was actually a big debate whether it even made sense to teach computer science,” said Department Chairman Kevin Jeffay.
Jeffay said the department has made significant progress in population, infrastructure and access to technology in the last half-century.
The department started out in a four-room, cottage-like building called West House, he said. The bathroom doubled as a copy room — and employees had a system to designate what they were using the room for. Now, the department spans across two buildings.
The technology available on campus has also grown in an unbelievable way, Jeffay said.
Now each computer science building has hundreds of computers.
“If you would have told somebody that back then, they wouldn’t believe you,” he said.