The University of Western Australia

First Computer at UWA - Technology Makes Its Debut

Technology makes its debut

In this age of iPads and Androids it’s hard to believe that there was a time when computers were rare and mysterious commodities.

On the 23 August 1962 UWA’s first computer, an IBM1620 and first of its kind in Western Australia, was installed in the Physics building. Comfortably located in the University’s only air conditioned room, the IBM1620 could store up to 60,000 numbers, read 250 cards and punch 10,000 digits each minute.

Amazingly, that was sufficient processing power to make it highly sought after for use in mathematics, engineering, psychology, agriculture and economic research projects. The IBM1620 was in such demand that it operated up to 168 hours per week and staff had to stagger their hours to gain access, often working well into the night.

The pioneer overseeing this marvel was Dennis Moore who was appointed as “Officer in Charge of Computer Installation” on 26 March 1962. His background in mathematics and IBM programming made him the ideal candidate for the position. Before moving to Perth he gained experience with the IBM1620 at the Australian Atomic Energy Commission in Lucas Heights.

Mr Moore went on to become the Director of Western Australian Regional Computing Centre and Chief Executive of Government Computing for Western Australia, and we are grateful to him for helping UWA take its first tentative steps towards technological advancement.