Williams PBK: 150th Anniversary

Join us Wednesday, March 18th for a day of activities celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Williams Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society. Events begin at 10am in Lawrence 231 where William  Arms of Cornell, our distinguished visiting scholar, will give a talk in Math/Stat 341 on “The Early Years of Academic Computing”:

The past fifty years have seen computing move from a fringe activity in universities to a central part of academic life. Today’s university students never knew a world without personal computers, networks, email, and the web. Nowadays, the computers and software that we use in universities are commercial products, but this was not always the case.  When the computer industry failed to meet our needs, we took the initiative.  For thirty years academic computing diverged from the mainstream.  We built our own state-of-the-art systems and ran them successfully.  Universities led the development of timesharing and local area (campus) networks.  The distributed computing, email, national networks, and the web that everybody uses today are direct descendants of systems that universities and scientific researchers built for themselves. As a student, faculty member, and administrator, I lived through many of these developments and for seventeen years I was in charge of computing at two of the leading universities, Dartmouth College and Carnegie Mellon. This talk tells the story.

Events continue with a lunch  at the Faculty House at noon and talks by the national PBK president and secretary, our visiting scholar William Arms of Cornell, the president of the NY PBK Association, and others from 4-8pm in Griffin 4 (refreshments and dinner provided). All are welcome; if possible please email Steven Miller ([email protected]) so we can get an accurate headcount. A complete schedule of the talks is online here: http://web.williams.edu/Mathematics/sjmiller/public_html/pbk/ (videos of the talks will be posted later on YouTube and linked to this page).