The Opening of the Seeley G. Mudd Computer Science Laboratory, 1983

Mudd exterior 1983

Note for future reference the scaffolding still up around the top. This picture must have been taken from Herman Brown.

The name Seeley G. Mudd is known far and wide along the archipelago of American colleges and universities. Born in 1895, Mudd, a native of Colorado, was a Columbia undergraduate who went on to Harvard Medical School. He became a successful cardiologist and a member of the faculty at Cal Tech. He gave away substantial sums both during his lifetime (he died in 1968) and afterwards through a foundation to help in “the construction of buildings for teaching, learning and research.” There are dozens of these buildings, mostly on fairly prestigious campuses, and they’re all named after him.

Mudd dedication 2

I found this set of pictures on a contact sheet in the Campus Photographer collection. They seem to have been taken at and just before and after the dedication ceremony. I’m most interested in the interior shots. If anyone would like to chime in with an explanation of what we’re seeing here, it would be most welcome:

Mudd Interior 2 1983
Mudd Lab interior 1 1983

Tomorrow, a nice surprise from this same batch of images.

Bonus: Quintet in Terrell 2013

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21 Responses to The Opening of the Seeley G. Mudd Computer Science Laboratory, 1983

  1. Melissa, you’re going to make poor effeegee esplode!

  2. marmer01 says:

    Is that Corky Cartwright and Ken Kennedy? AS-9000, now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long, long time. Oh, and your bonus pic? You’re gonna laugh when you see the Spring Shepherd School printed calendar, which was just delivered today. Notice the little paper booties protecting the floor under the chairs and stands. Now we have actual floor protector dealies made by the stand company. That was just kind of a test back in January.

    • Deborah Gronke Bennett (BSEE Hanszen '82) says:

      I didn’t know Corky well, but that is definitely Ken Kennedy in the first picture.

      I find the bonus picture amusing since they converted the old computer area in the basement of Hermann Brown into music rehearsal spaces after ISCA moved out when the Mudd building was built. I visited a few years later and loved how they converted the former computer room with its underground cooling space into an orchestra rehearsal space where the orchestra sat down at the lower floor level (what used to be under the floor tiles).

      • Deborah Gronke Bennett (BSEE Hanszen '82) says:

        Sorry, I meant to say Ken Kennedy was in the second picture. I wish the blog would allow me to re-edit my posts and kill the pesky typos!

    • Richard A. Schafer says:

      Yes, that’s definitely Corky and Ken, and Farrell to the right of them.

    • James Medford says:

      That does look like Corky Cartwright in the 2nd photo.

  3. Paul Engle says:

    The first interior shot is from the back of Room 109, the Operations Center, looking towards the front window. There used to be a sliding glass door that separated the room where the window area is from the machine room space behind it. The cubbyholes in the picture opened on both sides and were where the operators could put job output for people, who then retrieved it from the outside. Like a post office box. The downstairs has been significantly remodeled, so it looks almost nothing like this anymore.

    The second picture is the upstairs computer room where the servers lived. Room 230. Parts of it have been carved off to make offices since then, but there is still a sizable chunk of open space in there now.

    Fun fact: the room to to the right of Operations in the first picture is where I first started working in Mudd 20-mumble years ago. Even by then, though, the back wall of that office was closed off from the computer room area.

    • Richard A. Schafer says:

      Paul’s right. The front of the first picture are the operator’s consoles for the mainframe computer (the AS/9000). On the left was the VM console, and on the right the MVS console. (The MVS system ran as a virtual machine under VM.) In between them is a panel of buttons mostly used for IPLing (rebooting) the mainframe, but the round thing in the upper left corner was the emergency shutdown switch. That’s Nick Nichols at the window, who was the manager of operations. The office in the upper right was his office. From the messages on the VM console, the most recent thing that had happened was that an operator had mounted a tape on a tape drive, which was then attached to the MVS system. Most of the messages on the MVS console appear to be reporting some sort of I/O error on a communications line.

      • Richard A. Schafer says:

        In the second picture, on the left is the actual mainframe computer. The units at the upper right in the back of the room are disk drives, each of which stored less than I have on my PC at home today. The boxes in the middle are power supplies, I thnk. The white box may be another disk drive, but I’m not sure. The tall box on the right may be the 3081 mainframe that belonged to CompSci for a while, or maybe the 4341 mainframe that replaced it. Can’t be certain from this picture.

  4. marmer01 says:

    Looks like a couple of boxes of 8″ floppy disks next to the console. The kind that were actually floppy.

    • Richard Schafer says:

      Hard to believe those were floppy disks in those boxes. There was only one machine we ever had (a Series/1) that used 8″ floppies, and we would never have kept those floppies at the operator’s console.

      • But it looks like the boxes say “Floppy Disk” FD2 and that is a kind of 8″ floppy. Ebay has them. And they look like they are about the right size.

      • Richard Miller (Hanszen '75 & '76) says:

        Since they are at the console station I might assume they might contain the microcode/boot code for a cold start. In that era it is likely that the code would be on a ‘modern’ media like a floppy. I remember that the disk controller microcode on the 3330s (from ’75) were on floppies and I think the initial microcode load on the 155/158 was also. (We still had the KI-10 at Baylor then and we used paper tape to IPL the beast so 8″ floppies is not unlikely)

      • Richard A. Schafer says:

        Rick, you might be right. I’d forgotten that the AS/9000 might have used 8″ floppies for microcode loading.

      • Mark Williamson says:

        Yes, I believe that is the correct explanation.

  5. Richard Schafer says:

    By the way, the reason the buildings were all named after Mudd is that was part of the requirement of getting the money from the foundation: Mudd’s name had to be on the building, and it had to be a “significant” building. One of the problems we had at the time was that the foundation’s trustees were all dying off, and as I remember, there were no provisions for replacing them!

    • Mark Williamson says:

      Actually, I think that was more of an opportunity for us than a problem. They were in something of a hurry to spend the endowment of the foundation before they were all gone, so they loosened the previous requirement that the Mudd buildings had to have a medical or biological connection. I think we squeaked in with some reference to computational applications in medicine and/or biology.

  6. effegee says:

    The photo of Corky, Ken and me is on the lawn between Mudd and Heman Brown at the dedication.

    Not only was scaffolding still up when Mudd was photographed from HBH roof but also the lovely roof leaked like a sieve due to a construction error. Took close to two years to get it fixed.

    Marty, no need for me to explode. Richard and Paul have covered the details well.

  7. effegee says:

    BTW, the iPhone I’m sending this comment from has more storage and more processor power than the mainframe in the picture. And it doesn’t need the twin motor generator sets ( center rightin the picture) or 50 tons of air conditioning!

  8. loki_the_bubba says:

    I had to look it up, but yes, Seeley Mudd is the brother of Harvey Mudd, founder of Harvey Mudd College.

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