Onondaga Community College
Syracuse, New York
(1976 - 1980)
Programming as Systems Programmer at OCC
On-Line Class Registration
Terminal Screen Generator
College Email System
OCC Computer Center staff
OCC staff at my farewell lunch
Jack Milligan - Computer Center Director
My Experience Programming at O.C.C.
I learned that the Computer Center of Onondaga
Community College (OCC) in nearby Syracuse had an
opening for a systems programmer. The Director, Jack
Milligan, challenged me to do some work in the "real
world" to help my perspective in future teaching, and
I accepted the job. His Computer Center had an IBM
1130 that I was experienced in programming. It was
used mostly for administrative data processing for the
Registrar and Bursar, and for some student training
laboratory classes. The biggest project was scheduling
student's classes at the beginning of each semester.
I found programming the 1130 to help administrators
and students quite enjoyable. But the hour-long drive
from Oswego was tedious, especially during the lake
effect snowstorms. I occassionally stayed in my office
all night due to bad driving weather or to an urgent
But the processing power of the 1130 soon
became inadequate as needs of administration
increased, and a new Burroughs "minicomputer"
was purchased as the least expensive alternative. Our
1130 programming was done using the FORTRAN
language, but Burroughs programming was mostly in
We faced a huge project of writing new
COBOL programs to replace our Registrar and
Bursar systems. I was the leader of three other
Computer Center programmers assigned to that
project. Some Burroughs programmers assisted us.
A new feature was that each administrative office
had terminals with keyboards and screens wired to
the computer in our separate building. Our deadline
was to have the new registration system working in
time for scheduling classes at the beginning of the
semester. For the first time, the registration would
be done in an online method by remote terminals.
Would the new computer and our new programming
be able to keep up with the registering students?
The night before registration, we all spent the entire
night testing and reprogramming to get the system
to work. Even the College Vice President in charge
of the Computer Center joined us working all night.
And it actually worked successfully.
The computer users in the administrative
offices appreciated the features I provided for them.
My boss, Jack, called me his "magician" because I
was able to accomplish so much more progress than
other programmers. I worked lots of unpaid overtime,
especially when getting the new computer system to
work. Jack liked to say my work was equivalent to
four programmers because I worked twice the hours
and I was twice as productive.
I enjoyed creating computer software tools to
simplify the work of the College administrators, but
I felt I ought to be using my programming skills to
improve the lives of many more people, so I began
searching for a new job where I could be
programming for people all around the world...