Harvard Greatly Expands Free Computer Facilities
Harvard is offering a major expansion of the computer facilties open for free use by undergraduates.
Eleven computer consoles will be installed in all. Five consoles are now in operation in Matthews Hall in the Yard. The other six will open sometime this week, pending the arrival of additional equipment.
Three Harvard Houses-Adams, Kirkland, and Leverett-and one Radcliffe Hall-Cabot-will have one console each. The other two will be at the Aiken Computation Laboratory.
The entire computer program will cost about $100,000. Four groups are sharing the cost: The Faculty, the General Education Department, the Committee on the Computation Center, and the Division of Engineering and Applied Physics.
"Engineering and Applied Physics is really the white knight of this whole affair-they added the crucial amount of money," William H. Bossert 59, associate professor of Applied Mathematics and instructor of Natural Sciences 110 (Automatic Computing), said yesterday.
"I am very happy that we have finally gotten the money to do this-it's been a long time coming." Bossert said.
The computers will be open from 6 p.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday and all day Sunday. "Staying away from prime computer time gets us better rates." said Richard G. Leahy, assistant dean for Resources and Planning.
Teaching fellows or some other technically-trained individuals will be on full time duty at the five-console installationin Matthews Hall. Computer "babysitters" will circulate among the other installations in case anyone gets into difficulty.
A free brief course in BASIC-the computer language which most students will use-will be offered in the near future.
Several regular courses will require computer assignments for homework. Four hundred students are now attending Nat Sei 110, although Bossert said he is not certain about the exact number of students who will take the course.
"Last year there were only four machines available-and they were broken a lot-but still usage was very heavy," Bossert said.
"I hope this will be the start of the implementation of the Mosteller Report, which recommended that 16 computers he made freely available for undergraduates," Bossert said. [The Mosteller Report, which came out about two years ago, suggested needed expansion of facilities for optimum undergraduate education.]
"Unfortunately, the Faculty just has not allocated the necessary money." Bossert said. "probably because of more important priorities, like Afro-American Studies."
The computers can play several games, including golf and blackjack. Bossert said the golf game is a "probability sort of thing" while blackjack-which is his favorite-is "a real source of entertainment and education."
Blackjack teaches what the machine can do, its limitations, and how it can be put out of commission, he added.
The central time-sharing computer, an SDS 940, in the Computation Lab will be changed to a Sigma model next month. "The change is in no way a political move [referring to the machines' names]-both are made by the same company." Leahy said.