History of computing at UQ


The history of ITS began in 1958 when UQ first considered bringing new computer technology on-board.

A committee was established under Sydney A Prentice to study the possibility of installing an automatic digital computer at UQ.

Man using first computer at UQ

Man fixing first computer at UQ


The staff of the Centre offered the first formal qualification in computing technology in Queensland.

This was the P/G Diploma in Automatic Computing. A second formal course, the P/G Diploma of Information Processing was added in 1968. These courses moved to the Department of Computer Science when it was formed in 1970.

Three men looking at the computer at the Computer Centre opening in 1962

Cars parked outside of the Prentice Centre construction site in 1964

1973 to 1975

The Centre's scope of operations increased to provide services to the newly established Griffith University. Student admission processing, initially known as the Joint Admission Centre, was established. This would become QTAC.

University Senate approved the name 'Prentice Computer Centre', and the first remote job entry batch station was installed at Griffith University. This allowed users to submit card decks and receive printout of the PDP-10 without travelling to St Lucia.

A computer plotter in Electrical Engineering working in 1973

A computer plotter in Electrical Engineering in 1973

1979 to 1981

A Mini/Micro Support Group was established in 1979. By 1980, personal computers began to make an appearance at UQ. In 1982, the first DEC VAX System (an 11/780) was installed.

a woman using a personal computer in 1980

staff admiring a new Apple computer in 1981

1983 to 1984

In 1983, a computervision CAD/CAM system for computer aided design, improved plotting and printing facilities and a phototypsetter was installed.

Hardware and software services were extend to support 16-bit micro-computer systems. By 1984, an IBM, an IBM 3083 System was installed.

Griffith University contributed to the capital funds to reserve 12 per cent of capacity for its own use. DEC KA-10 was decommissioned after 16 years of service.

a personal computer in the library in 1982

a printer in the library in 1982

a man working on a computer installation

1990 to 1994

Mr John Noad was appointed as Director of Prentice Computer Centre in 1990, and in 1991, the Audio Visual Department was transferred to the Prentice Centre.

This move resulted in changing the name of the Prentice Computer Centre to The Prentice Centre. Access to network infrastructure was also funded centrally.

In 1992, the DEC PDP KL-1090 was retired, and UQ hosted the 1192 AARNet Network shop.

A Cray Y-MP Supercomputer was leased to replace the IMB 3081 in 1993, and a MASPAR parallel high performance computer was relocated from the Department of Electrical Engineering. 48 dial-in modems were also installed during this year.

The Security Emergency Response Team was established around that time as a joint operation by UQ, QUT and Griffith Universities. 

A computer lab in the computer science building in 1991

A woman using computerised EEG Equipment in 1991

1996 to 2000

DEC Alpha Stations were purchased as the new standard platform for Central Network Services to UQ. 180 dial-in modems were also installed at this time.

Graham Rees and Jennie Perry-Smith were appointed co-Directors of The Prentice Centre in 1997, and in 1998, a review of IT at UQ led to the formation of ITS. In this same year, a Silicon Graphics Origin 2000 Supercomputer was installed, and the GPN1 Data Centre was commissioned.

In 1999, Nick Tate joined as the first Director of ITS, and the Ipswich Data Centre was commissioned. A Cisco 6500 multilayer switch was introduced to the Ipswich campus as well.

By the year 2000, a Sun Enterprise 10000 System was installed, which was comprised of two chassis and 96 processors. It also involved five terabytes of disk space. Over 1200 modems were also installed.

Sydney A Prentice poses next to a computer in 1977

1961 to 1962

In 1961, the order was placed with the Australian General Electric Company for the supply of a GE-225 Automatic Digital Computer. At the same time, work proceeded on the construction of a suitable area to house the equipment.

The GE-225 Computer was installed in the Hawken Building (now the Prentice Centre) in 1962 under the direction of Mr R.E. Kelly, the first Computer Officer at UQ. The formal name of the unit was The University of Queensland Computer Centre.

Inside the Prentice Computer Centre in 1962

two women performing data entry at UQ in 1963

1969 to 1972

In 1969, the Department of Computer Science was established with Professor G.A. Rose, the inaugural Chair. The Computer Centre was shifted from the Department of Electrical Engineering to this new department.

Three full-time programmers were employed, and 16 remote terminals for interactive time-sharing were installed on the PDP-10. The Computer Centre became a separate entity in 1970, with Professor Rose continuing as Director.

In 1972, Mr Alan Coulter was appointed full-time Director of the Computer Centre.

A group of men using the computer in 1969

1976 to 1978

More remote batch stations were installed and connected to the DEC PDP-10 throughout 1976. In 1977, the GE-225 was decommissioned and presented to the Queensland Museum.

A Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-10 KL-1090 Computer was installed in 1978. 170 remote terminals were connected to the PDP-10s. There was also a large purchase of DPD-11s for departmental use.

Sydney A Prentice at the computer in 1977

Sydney A Prentice shuts down the GE-225 Computer

Mike McLean works on a computer in 1978


The PDP KL-1090 System was upgraded to a dual processor configuration. MICOM circuit switching and DECnet packet switching systems were also upgraded.

By the end of the 1982 there were 500 communications lines connected to the Centre, operating at transmission speeds from 300bps to 9600bps. A second Data Centre, called D2, was established at UQ. Gateways to external networks were installed providing access to CSIRO, other Australian universities, and to North American and Europe.

An experimental Local Area Network operating at 10 million bps was installed later that same year.

a computer set up in the UQ Library

1987 to 1988

A DEC 8550 computer system was installed to replace the DEC PDP KL-10-90 system in 1987.

By 1988, a three-year-old IBM 3081 processor system replaced the IBM 3083, which provided processing power and disk space. The Centre also made a major contribution to the development and operation of the Univations Pavilion at World Expo 88.

a student working in a computer lab in 1985

Computer pyramid in 1987

a teacher lecturing a class about computers in 1987


A Silicon Graphics Power Challenge Supercomputer was installed to replace the Cray Y-MP.

This new supercomputer provided around 10 times the processing capacity of the Cray. GDC ATM switched and Wellfleet Backbone Concentrator nodes were installed to provide an increase in UQ backbone network bandwidth.

There was an upgrade of links to QUT and Griffith to 34mbps point to point microwave, and new CISCO routing equipment was installed in the Prentice Centre.

The link to the Gatton campus was also upgraded from 2mbps to 34mbps.

a woman standing next to the Cray supercomputer in 1993

a student testing out the computer assisted learning in 1995

2001 to 2012

UQConnect, UQ's very own ISP, was launched in 2001.

UQ also deployed a tiered architecture to its network to replace the previously collapsed backbone, and the first IP phone was introduced that same year (on a stand at Questnet).

2002 marked the 40th anniversary of the installation of the first digital computer at Queensland. In that same year, a Silicon Graphics Origin 3000 Supercomputer was installed as well as Dark Fibre to connect St Lucia to Herston, PA and Mater Hospitals, Dentistry, and Customs House.

One year later, Altix Supercomputer with IA 64 processors was installed as part of a high performance computing cluster. Multitask technology was deployed to the network in 2004.

The Microsoft Exchange central university mail system was rolled out in 2005, and the First Storage Area Network was deployed. Large scale server virtualisation was introduced in 2007, which brought cost savings, reduced power consumption, and cooling and data centre space requirements.

The first iPhone was purchased in University fleet in 2008, and Microsoft helped build a large scale hosted student mail solution to host about 150,000 student mailboxes.

One year later, the Phoenix Program was created to upgrade UQ's network infrastructure. The program purchased 3500 wireless access points, 2171 network switches and $2.7 million in core equipment.

In 2010, the Barrine supercomputing cluster was installed, and Jeremy Crowley became the Acting Director of ITS. Rob Moffatt became Director later that year.

The January 2011 floods caused extensive damage to ITS across the campus, totalling $800,000. Damages to buildings resulted in an additional $250,000 of replacement IT equipment.

In 2012, Analogue IPTV was decommissioned, and streamed digital TV was introduced. ITS had 1.6PB of disk storage capacity across various systems – the equivalent of a stack of CDs 4.5 kilometres high!