Alumni Outlook Magazine

A timeline of technological progress


A timeline of technological progress

LEFT TO RIGHT: John Jarvis introduced the industrial technology degree; Stout’s student union was one of the first in Wisconsin to have television; the library made photocopying available in 1965; and Stout shared an IBM punch card system with another campus.

Following the death of President Lorenzo Dow Harvey in 1922, the Stout Institute entered a three-decade period of quiet contentment. It truly was a “Practical School of Exceptional Merit.” Stout had an excellent reputation with a quality faculty that was graduating well-trained future leaders in home economics and industrial arts. Many people on campus held the belief that if “it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” but one man, John Jarvis, recognized that contentment is not always that far from torpor.

In the early 1950s, Jarvis introduced the industrial technology degree,  designed for students who wanted to prepare for careers in industry. This not only turned the focus of many Stout students toward industry rather than  education, it forced the administration to adapt the curriculum to meet the needs of the industrial sector.

An expansion of liberal studies and a new emphasis on technology provided students with the knowledge they needed to compete in and contribute to the rapidly expanding industrial nation that the United States had become. Before long, the industrial technology degree had become the largest program at Stout, and the school had turned in a new direction.

One of the earliest forays into new technology at Stout was actually the result of a campaign by students themselves. In 1951, Stout became one of the first campuses in Wisconsin to make television available to its students in the college union. The Stout Student Association led the charge, attaching 8,800 stickers to coffee cans in a yearlong campaign to collect money. The result was the addition of one 16-inch TV.
Another important technological advance on campus came with the introduction of a photocopier in the library in spring 1965. Copies cost the rather extravagant sum of 15 cents a page, but it made it possible for students to copy materials from the library; photocopying was done by a student operator, and request forms for copies had to be filled out at the circulation desk. Less than two years later, a self-operated machine was introduced that allowed students to make copies for only 10 cents a page and at the astounding rate of seven copies per minute.

Like many campuses, Stout began to use computers for registration and financial aid applications. Stout began by sharing an IBM punch card system with another campus. Stout’s IBM room, later known as the Data Processing Center, not only provided support to the university in terms of student and financial records, it also offered classes where students could learn basic data processing techniques and programming. In fall 1966, Stout held the first College Computer Users meeting with guests from North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Stout carried the concept of computer usage a step further when, in spring 1967, several faculty members and students created their own computer. The SSU-3 analog computer was considered so advanced at the time that a computer sales representative said his wares couldn’t match what had already been developed at Stout.

For the past half-century, technology has been one of the leading ingredients in the educational process at Stout. There is little doubt that this will continue to be an increasingly important part of a student’s experience. There also is little doubt that Stout will continue to be the leader in the University of Wisconsin System in incorporating technology into its curriculum.