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April 24, 2017 7:48 AM

Library displays celebrate Conestoga's 50th anniversary

To celebrate Conestoga’s 50th anniversary, a series of displays will be available throughout the year in the Library Resource Centre at the Doon campus. The first display is themed around computing and includes Conestoga’s very first computer, a PDP-12.

Computing library display.jpg
Conestoga's first computer, a PDP-12, is available for viewing at the Library Resource Centre. The computer is part of a display to celebrate Conestoga's computing history and the college's 50th anniversary.

The dual-processor 12-bit minicomputer was developed in 1969 by Digital Equipment Corporation and its size, green trim, and reels of ribbon look nothing like the backdrop in which it’s displayed. Today, the LRC houses 80 computers, provides 580 electrical outlets for student devices and offers a collection of more than 268,000 e-books, in addition to its collection of 20,000 print books.

The PDP-12 is accompanied by a personal collection on loan from Ig Kolenko, chair of the School of Engineering and Information Technology, and director of Conestoga’s Centre for Smart Manufacturing. Kolenko’s collection dates back to the 1980s and includes an eight-inch floppy disk, a hard disk platter, a Commodore Amiga from 1987 and an Atari 520 ST from 1986.

The collection of hardware, which will be on display until early May, is supported by articles and newsletters that also share pieces of Conestoga’s computing history. An internal communique from February 1997 highlights the work of the college’s World Wide Web Task Force and the launch of Conestoga’s website.

Articles from Conestoga’s student newspaper, Spoke, also share some of the college’s computing firsts. Hard copies of the articles are available as part of the display, and the complete digital archive of Spoke is now available online as part of a 50th anniversary project. Users can browse or download over 1,000 issues dating back to 1970.

“We are grateful to the Library Resource Centre for the space to display these unique pieces of our history and for digitizing the college archives,” said Robin Carmichael, co-chair of Conestoga’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. “During the Spring term the LRC entrance display will focus on the architectural footprint of Conestoga through the decades -- how we’ve transformed our buildings and spaces in the region. During the Fall term we will honour Conestoga’s Nursing program and its impact on health care locally, regionally and worldwide.”

Conestoga was founded in 1967 as part of a provincial movement to introduce a new kind of post-secondary education system to complement universities. At the time, colleges provided career-oriented programming to help graduates find and keep employment to support the economic and social development of communities. Today, the college is one of Canada’s leaders in polytechnic education, delivering a comprehensive range of education and training opportunities to serve the needs of the labour market.

Throughout the year you are invited to join the celebrations highlighting Conestoga’s community, alumni, students, faculty, staff and partners. Visit the 50th anniversary website to share photos and memories of the college and to stay up-to-date with news related to upcoming events.

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