Computer Science and Computing: A Guide to Archival Holdings

Photo of ILLIAC I, ca. 1950s
Photo of ILLIAC I, ca. 1950s

In 1948, the Board of Trustees’ purchase of an EDVAC electronic digital computer for research program use. The project was originally situated in the Digital Computer Laboratory where instruction in computer hardware  In 1964, the name was changed from the Digital Computer Laboratory to the Department of Computer Science. In addition to Computer Science, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) was created in February 1985, provides integrated cyberinfrastructure services to the university community while also serving as a transdisciplinary center for research and scholarship.

The University Archives houses records that chronicle the history of computing–in teaching and research–at the University of Illinois and its interdisciplinary reach. While the records of the Department of Computer Science provide a starting point for resources on this topic, information on computing is found throughout many different records groups.

Department of Computer Science

Administrative Records:
College and Departmental Archives:
  • Departmental Personnel Files (Record Series 11/15/6): contains correspondence and memoranda, appointment papers, and biographical information sheets regarding the appointment of Computer Science faculty
  • Computer Science Photograph File (Record Series 11/15/10): includes photographic prints and negatives of the Digital Computer Lab, Ordvac, ILLIAC I-IV, Prof. J.P. Nash, PLATO, and general campus scenes
  • Thomas M Siebel Center for Computer Science Detailed Project Program and Conceptual Design (Record Series 11/15/11): contains site and building program overviews and architectural plans concerning the construction and development of the Siebel Center, specifically its site criteria; conceptual design; building design; the academic mission and program participants; and research laboratories and groups
  • Announcements and Programs (Record Series 11/15/801): announcements issued by the Department and the Digital Computer Laboratory, including brochures containing lists of staff members, graduate study associated courses offered, facilities and aids in using computers, instructions for admission to Graduated College
  • ILLIAC Bulletins, Guides, and Manuals (Record Series 11/15/804): Generalized Algebraic Translator-Compiler Manual, Preliminary Guide to the Use of ATHOS, Users’ Manual for ALCOR-ILLINOIS-7090 ALGOL-60 Translator, 1401 HAVOC System Manual and index to PORTHOS Manual. ILLIAC publications include ILLIAC Programming Guides, Elementary Description of ILLIAC, Ibal ILLIAC III Basic Assembler Language, ILLIAC III Programming Manual, S-M-V Programming Manual, and ILLIAC IV, Documents 193-198 and Final Technical Reports.  The series includes ILLIAC Program Library Index Codes 18-331 – with lacunae, ILLIAC Active Program Library, Auxiliary Program Library, and Statistical Library and papers on ILLIAC II equipment and problems, IBM 650 Program library, and Statistical Analysis Library Tape (SALT) user manual
  • Research Reports (Record Series 11/15/807): reports on computer arithmetic, program and hardware development in computer systems research, pattern recognition computer programs, computer organization, advance circuit research, numerical analysis, switching theory and related topics
  • Illinet Output (Record Series 11/15/810): monthly Illinet Output, containing departmental news of courses, equipment and data processing systems; reports of usage and users’ complaints, suggestions and inquires
  • CSO Updates (Record Series 7/6/810): monthly newsletter issued to provide a means of communication between the staff and users of the Computing Services Office and containing articles on facilities, services, telephone numbers, location listings, question and answers and suggestions and replies. 1973-90 issues were titled “Off-Line”
  • Fourum (Record Series 11/15/809): monthly newsletter for the ILLIAC IV users group, issued to disseminate and exchange ILLIAC IV computer programs and program documentation
  • Educom (Record Series 11/15/815): monthly bulletin of the Interuniversity Communications Council, contains articles on information-processing activities, computerized programmed instruction, library automation, educational television and radio, the use of computers in university administration and conferences, symposia and meetings
  • Thomas M. Siebel Center Conferences, Forums, and Symposia Programs (Record Series 11/15/817): include a Vodafone Wireless Technology Symposium program
  • Physics Department Subject File (Record Series 11/10/1): contains information on PLATO, ILLIAC IV, computers and the High Energy Physics group, the Computer Center Expenditure Group, and IBM
Faculty Papers:
  • James E. Robertson Papers (Record Series 11/15/20): computer publicity; visits to Russian computer centers; Fulbright research on computers at the University of Sydney; ILLIAC I, II & III, & IV; Digital Computer Laboratory & departmental plans; Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers meetings & publications; Brookhaven National Laboratory; computer history & design; and drum data
  • Wolfgang J. Poppelbaum Papers (Record Series 11/15/21): concern ILLIAC (I-III, and V) computers, circuits, transistors, monitors, graphics and other computer hardware
  • Michael Faiman Papers (Record Series 11/15/22): relate to Computer Science Accreditation Board (CSAB), the Illinois Junior Technical Society, the Ofek invention about encoder/decoder system, and computer science and professional society conferences; manuscript of “EXCEL: Experiments in Computer Electronics and Logic”; ILLIAC II report; and circuit diagrams
  • H. George Friedman Papers (Record Series 11/15/23): regard the Department of Computer Science; computer manuals regarding programs for Multimax operating systems, PostScript, text processing, tool command language, and typesetting and font generation; and transportation research
  • Geneva G. Belford Papers (Record Series 11/15/24): relate research on data management, performance analysis of computer systems, distributed databases, and sedimentation


National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)

College and Departmental Archives:
  • NCSA Subject File (Record Series 7/5/1): including budgets, memos, organizational and space plans, committee minutes, student and staff personnel files, correspondence and purchasing agreements with technology companies, including Cray Computing, IBM, Apple Computers, AT&T, and Apollo Computer, Inc., correspondence with other national supercomputing centers
  • NSF Administrative Subject File (Record Series 7/5/2): concerns programs and supercomputing centers funded by the NSF including the Biological Centers Program, the Division of Advanced Scientific Computing, the High Performance Computing and Communications Program, the Industrial Supercomputing Program, the Cornel Theory Center, the John von Neumann Center for High-Performace Computing, the MetaCenter, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, the San Diego Supercomputing Center, Partnership Illinois, and the Undergraduate Research Program and Computer Science Initiative
  • NCSA Clippings File (Record Series 7/5/10): concerns supercomputers, supercomputer centers, grants, budgets, the National Science Foundation, the “Star Wars” boycott, the Strategic Defense Initiative, the Beckman Institute, the Soviet Union, access to technology, the Challenger explosion, Cray Research, Inc., and partnerships with technology companies, including IBM, Apple Computers, AT&T, Kodak, Dow, and Apollo Computer, Inc.
  • NCSA Photographs and Negatives (Record Series 7/5/11): include photographic prints created by NCSA Media Services  documenting the weekly progress of the installation of the Cray YMP computer at NCSA from September through November 1990
  • Supercomputing Applications Publications (Record Series 7/5/801): Access, annual reports, Data Link, issuances, news, profiles, user documentation and User’s Guides
  • NCSA Video Tapes (Record Series 7/5/802): contain 1/2 inch VHS videotapes produced by the NCSA and promoting NCSA projects. Titles include “Televisualization: Science by Satellite” (1989); “Study of a Numerically-Modeled Severe Storm” (1989); “NCSA Realtime” Series, numbers 3 (Nov. 1991), 4 (April 1992), 5 (October 1992), 6 (July 1993); and “Innovation #709: In the Image of Nature”
  • Supercomputing Research & Development Publications (Record Series 7/5/811): including an affiliates program announcement, Abstracts (1989-), Bulletins (1988-), Notes (1989- ), Research Reviews (1987- ), and notices of meetings and summer institutes
  • Research Reports (Record Series 7/5/815): Center for Supercomputing Research and Development Research Reports showing date, title, authors, report number and reports of research findings
Faculty/Staff Papers:


Computer-based Education Research Laboratory (CERL)

The following records from the Computer-based Education Research Laboratory document the development and use of the PLATO system at the University. CERL was established in 1966 within the Graduate College in order to facilitate the development and research of computer-based education.

College and Departmental Archives:
Faculty Papers:

Digital Content

Digital Images:
Digitized Records: