Computer Science Celebrates a History of Firsts

04-15-2015
Writer(s): Jesica E. Hollinger

The first department of computer science in the United States celebrated a new, commemorative book and archival exhibit celebrating more than 50 years of history.

Friends and faculty of Purdue Computer Science gathered for a special event – First in the Field Exhibit and Book Dedication - held at the Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center in the Humanities, Social Science and Education Library (HSSE) on Monday (April 13).

Sunil Prabhakar, department head and professor acknowledged the efforts of the book’s author, Robin Pyle, paying tribute to the earliest founders of the department.

“I’m grateful for Robin’s arduous efforts to compile this book, paying gratitude and respect to the men and women who pioneered the field before us, leaving us an incredible legacy to expand upon,” Prabhakar said. “I’m not sure any of our forefathers could have predicted how our young discipline would become intricately woven into the fabric of society, as part of our daily lives,” he added.

Robin Pyle, author of the book provided an early history of computing activities at Purdue and discussed the necessary collaborations that transpired to shape the department.

Pyle is the daughter of Duane Pyle, one of the first, five faculty members of the department. He served as assistant director 1961 - 1962 and assistant head from 1965 - 1969.  In 1971, he left Purdue for the University of Houston and worked as a professor there, until 1993.

Pyle assisted her father on numerous occasions, working with him as a computer programmer for several academic computer centers. Most notably, helped with an NSF-supported project at Stanford University, which involved remote use of supercomputers for his research.  

Robin resides in Bloomington, Indiana where she works at Ivy Tech, as an adjunct professor of communications. Additionally, she is a professional performer and playwright in dance and theatre, most notable for her choreographic work with “Bubblewoman,” a three-dimensional animated figure controlled through a dance notation system. 

Copies of the book are available for $29.95 at Amazon, or on the third floor of the Leadership Suite in the Lawson Computer Science Building.