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Computers Made It Possible

by Raymond A. D'Angelo
June 11, 2007 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 85, Issue 24


When I started, CAS was entering the IBM 360 era. That series of machines and their operating systems are the grandparents of the machines that are now running the CAS Data Center. In fact, some programs that I helped write in the early 1970s are running on the current IBM hardware. The technology—coupled with many dedicated, innovative, smart people—has allowed CAS to be transformed from a print product to a premier electronic information service for scientists.

Some defining moments for me include the move from hot lead (literally, melted ingots being stamped in individual typeset letters) to electronic creation of printing plates. Also, CAS was an early user of UNIX systems (before most people knew what UNIX was) to enable word processing and e-mail. When we first started to pilot e-mail, we could not afford to have a machine on everyone's desk—we didn't have room on our desks for the big bulky machines. So we put a cluster of machines in a large room, and staff would sign up for a time to read and write e-mail.

Well, one day, two guys were in the room going through their e-mail, reading, responding, and writing new messages. They were sitting side-by-side, not realizing that they were sending e-mail back and forth to each other.

I am particularly proud that the Web is making access to CAS content available anytime, anywhere. It has taken a lot of great people to make these things happen, but it was the computer that enabled these people to unleash their creativity.

D'Angelo received A.B. and M.S. degrees in mathematics from John Carroll University. He joined CAS in June 1970 as a programmer. Among his job titles were systems analyst, senior engineer, senior scientist, group leader of systems analysis, programming manager, systems technology manager, systems information department manager, and online services development manager.



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