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Transcript of video (dated June, 2005):

Sr. Lourdes Boyer

Hi, I’m Sr. Lourdes Boyer. I came to the College of St. Francis, when it was still the College of St. Francis, in 1976. I was part of the faculty.

Before that I talked with the Assistant Dean at the College in the summer before and explained my desires to work there, especially in the field of Education because I got my Master’s in Math Education.

He suggested I get a couple computer classes because he had in mind with my mathematical background, that I could help the College better in the Computer Science department; which wasn’t existing.

So I went and took a couple courses in programming and systems and came on the College in September of 1976.

He says okay, here’s what I want you to do; Caterpillar Corporation has sponsored the University in the PLATO Computer System. And that’s, PLATO stands for Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operation.

It was the beginning stages of using computers in the Education field. We were gifted with 4 computers, 4 terminals that were connected on-line to the University of Illinois through a telephone circuit. It was actually long distance cables set up specifically for that.

We had some courses where the students actually used the computers to learn part of their course work. Others were supplements, especially like in the English area. They used it as supplementary material. I used it, of course, in my Math teaching. I taught the Algebra courses and the Math for teachers so I used it so they could become familiar.

What this PLATO system could do was basically what you’re doing now with your PC at home.

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In those days, of course there were no PC’s in people’s backyards or front yards or anything.

Some people would come to the University to use the PLATO system so they could be in touch with other people. Otherwise we actually had voice mail there.

We had, through the people would be actually sitting down at a terminal and talking to somebody at another terminal in another state.

One of the Sisters was here during the summer would contact her family in Belgium through the computer. She’d sit down at the computer, call the person up and that person was they’d start typing back and forth to each other, similar to what you do on-line on a computer today.

You could write letters to other people and send it on and they would send a message back to you. You could have chat rooms where by you would go into a particular area or field that you were interested in.

We set one up for the College of St. Francis so that anyone that was interested in talking with people at the College of St. Francis they could do so. We had our own chat room at that point in time.

PLATO system stayed until 1983 when I left the College. But in those days it was the Cadillac but if you’d looked at it now you’d think, my heavens it was a Model T. It was the beginning stages of computers and use of computers with the different things that we have on-line right now.

Not much more about the PLATO computer system; I did teach Fortran and Basic in the Business department until we got a small PC.

We had to punch everything out on punch cards. Then I would take the punch cards into Matteson, IL and they would run it on the main computer there. I’d bring the information back to the students and they could see whether they had filled in their punch cards correctly or not. Whether their program would actually run and that was when they were learning to program in Basic.

Eventually we did get one Hewlett Packard machine, where by they could sit down and actually program and learn how to program and Basic and Fortran.

So it was the beginning stages. Since that time, some of the students I’ve had have gone on and even started their own businesses in computer programming and working. One young lady that went on and actually started doing computers with videos, teaching for different corporations.

Thank you.