2 Turku Joins the Computer Era

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2.1 Start of the Computer Era in Turku, cont.

By this Turku had joined the computer era. Wegematic 1000 was the first university computer in productive use in Finland, the second generally accessible computer, in addition to the Elliot 803 A (Kaapelitehdas), and the seventh computer in all installed in Finland. On Dec 20 the computer was presented to the press. The next day this was announced in Åbo Underrättelser as: "The mathematics machine in Turku computes stability of ship", and in Uusi Aura as: "One thousand additions per second, The Turku Computing Center in action". The articles contained data on the organization of the Computing Center and some future plans including the hiring of MB B. Stenvik from the beginning of 1961 for selling computer time and a clerk to help with office work.

On January 20, 1961 the opening was celebrated with an inaugural speech by T-E. Lassenius. In August 19 and 21 at meetings in Oslo an organization NordSAC (Nordisk samarbetsgrupp för Alwac-Wegematic computers) for program exchange and technical corporation was formed by some 10 Alwac-Wegematic users mainly from academia in Sweden, Norway and Finland. In 1961 the computer was utilized 1 094 h (universities 267 h). Financial help from the State for a scientific programmer was obtained running from 1.9. MS A Perko was suggested for the position but as he obtained a scholarship MS A. Törn was employed for the time At the same time A. Holmström was employed to be in charge for administrative transactions.

The financial situation was not good. The year 1961 resulted in a loss of 1.5 Mmk. In a meeting of the board in September, Laurikainen who had got a Professorship at Helsinki University in 1960 and moved to Helsinki suggested that Stenvik be elected head of the Computing Center, which was accepted.

In January in a letter to Sven-Olof Tuvlind (ADB Institutet, Gottenburg) on NordSAC matters Stenvik estimates the need for external (ABN Company) hardware maintenance to 1 month/year. In the letter, magnetic tape and ferrite core memory is mentioned. He also estimates the technical life time of Wegematic 1000 to 10 years.
The annual report of the Foundation for 1962 contains the following: "The chairman of the board was still T-E. Lassenius. The machine utilization was 1 841 h (university use 315 h). The staff was 9 persons. The first course on Systems Design was held by O. Karttunen at Lepolampi for 29 participants."

No amortizes on the loan 6 Mmk could be made in 1962. As an explanation it is stated that the Wegematic machine was found rather unstable and difficult to maintain, and that it according to experts was becoming out of date. Further it was stated that the future prospects were not bright. There were rumors that importers of computers were planning to establish competing computing sites, which was expected to substantially hurt the Foundation.

In Dec 1963 an agreement with IBM was reached, by which the activities and economical obligations of the Computing Center, and its customers were overtaken by IBM. Wegematic 1000 remained in university use until spring 1964 when an IBM 1620 was installed to be used jointly by the universities and IBM. This concludes start of the computer era in Turku.

The Foundation still exists in year 2000 but have no activities except two annual obligatory meetings. Some funds (< 30 000 mk) have remained. The reason for keeping the Foundation alive has been for its potential use in future organizational and financial transactions for co-work in the field of computer science among the academic institutions in Turku.