Celebrating 50 years of IT Services
Celebrating 50 years of IT Services
In the Academic Year 2019/2020 IT Services celebrated 50 years of service at Trinity since the founding of the Computer Laboratory in 1969. To mark this event, we took a look back at where it all began and created a timeline of the 50-year history of computing services at Trinity. As 2020 was a year of such unprecedented change for us all it was somewhat re-assuring for us to look back at what has changed over the last 50 years, to acknowledge what is still changing and also see what hasn’t changed. Undoubtedly more change will come in the future but what is certain is that since the Covid-19 pandemic moved us so immediately into remote working and learning in March 2020, we can more tangibly than ever understand how the last 50 years of development and change has unlocked the potential value of IT for everyone.
A message from our previous directors
Over the last 50 years there have been four Directors, including the current Director of IT Services Patrick Magee. In this video, you will catch a glimpse of our previous Directors talking about their experience in the department which we hope will spark memories for many of past times. You will see that over the years our department name has evolved from the Computer Laboratory, to Information Systems Services and finally (for now) to IT Services and we would like to thank John Moriarty, Michael Nowlan, and John Murphy for providing us with these invaluable recollections.
We have created a full timeline of computing services over the decades – it should bring back memories for both those who have worked in the department and everyone who has ever accessed and used IT at Trinity. Year 1969 shows where we started, while 2020 shows where we are now, and each decade in-between highlights key events throughout the 50-year history. We hope you find it both interesting and informative as it attempts to show the growth, change and the recurring events as the computing we all use has developed each decade. To put items into perspective, we have also included a few global IT developments and other world events. To navigate through the timeline of computing services at Trinity, click on a year or decade below.
Click on any decade below to reveal more information in our timeline 👇
Where we started
It’s hard to imagine Trinity today without a computer on every desk, a smartphone in everyone’s hands and IT Services on hand to help out with all the IT. But that wasn’t the case 51 years ago. In 1969 Trinity had just opened its newest addition - The “Computer Laboratory”, College’s first incarnation of IT Services.
Trinity had created its first central computing service department that would run the Trinity computer, an IBM System/360 Model 44, which was due for delivery in early 1969. John Moriarty was appointed as the first Director of the Computer Laboratory. The first location for the Computer Laboratory was a prefabricated “Terrapin” building, a bit like a portacabin, which was constructed in the Fellows Garden, now known as Fellows Square.
Part of the Computer Laboratory was modified with the installation of air-conditioning, a raised floor to accommodate cabling, and an automatic fire protection system – this was the first College Data Centre. The Terrapin buildings also provided accommodation for the Departments of Computer Science and Statistics and were also used as a Lecture Theatre by these departments.
The new Trinity Computer was delivered and officially opened by the Minister for Education, Brian Lenihan (Senior), in January 1969. The Trinity computer remained in the Terrapin Building in the Fellows Garden until construction of the new Arts Building in September 1972, when the Trinity computer was evacuated to 200 Pearse Street.
The IBM 360/44 was a mainframe computer system family initially launched by IBM in 1964 and delivered to the market between 1965 and 1978. It is said to be the first family of computers designed to cover the complete range of applications, small to large, commercial and scientific.
Trinity chose the IBM 360/44 because it was supplied with 128KB of memory rather than the standard 64KB. The original configuration that Trinity purchased had a 1MB capacity internal "biscuit" disk drive, two disk drives of 7.25MB capacity each, two magtape drives, a card reader, a card punch and a line printer.
A collection of computing items, including subsystems from the Trinity’s IBM 360/44, is retained in the display cases in the foyer of the O'Reilly Institute.
The IBM 360/44 was not Trinity’s first computer. Trinity’s first computer was an IBM 1620 machine installed in Engineering in the early 1960s and used to deliver the original MSc course in computer applications in the Academic Year 1962/63.
A big step forward for Trinity
So the new purchase in 1969 of the IBM 360/44 wasn’t the first Trinity Computer but it did mean a big step forward for Trinity as the new computer facilitated not only the Engineering teaching and research that had previously been run on the IBM 1620 but now could provide special applications for the Library and College Administration. The investment that Trinity made in 1969 to purchase the IBM 360/44 would in today’s money be a spend of just over €4.4m.
Many thanks to Ken Gordon, who worked a lifetime in IT Services up to his recent retirement in 2016, for providing us with information for this article. Ken started his 4 Year Engineering Degree in Trinity in 1969 and was one of only seven students who picked Computer Science as their main Engineering subject. Ken started as a programmer in the Computer Laboratory in October 1972.
Thank you to John Moriarty, first Director of the Computer Laboratory, for his article on Techarchives and to The John Gabriel Byrne Computer Science Collection for details and photographs relating to this item.
The Computer Laboratory had 26 staff in its first year, including development staff, operations staff, Director, Assistant Director, Operations Manager, and a Secretary. Today, in 2020, there are 120 staff working in IT Services.
Introductory Courses Training & Communications
In October 1971, the first introductory courses for users of the Trinity Computer were held with 44 staff & research students attending. The course covered non-numeric PL/I programming and data processing.
Global IT Events: The first email ever was sent in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson, American Computer Programmer and inventor of email. (Source: Wikipedia)
Student Registration Enhancements New Systems/Services
The Student Record computer system was modified to automatically produce special self-adhesive cover labels for student files and pre-printed registration cards to speed up the registration process.
Punch Cards New Systems/Services
Did you know that in the 1970s users of the Trinity Computer needed to engage a Systems Analyst to use punch cards (a piece of card paper to which holes were punched to input data to the central computer). Trinity introduced this practice in 1972 until computer terminals (a device with a display unit and keyboard allowing data entry and display) came along. The use of punch cards was at its peak in Trinity in 1974 and from 1976 the use of the punch cards started to fall thanks to increasing use of terminals for data entry. In 1977 it was reported that the use of them had nearly ceased and the formal end of the punch cards was recorded in 1979. (Image below of ICT manual card punch and punch card from The John Gabriel Byrne Computer Science Collection)
Computer Laboratory newsletter & Computer Laboratory Users' Guide Training & Communications
To improve technical and administrative information to users about the Laboratory facilities the Computer Laboratory Newsletter as well as the users' guide were introduced.
Library Cataloguing System New Systems/Services
The Library cataloguing system was extended in 1973 to include non-copyright acquisitions.
New Salary & Wages System New Systems/Services
Work commenced on the new Salary and Wages System, the UNIPAY package. The system was expected to be operational in early 1974.
Hot News Training & Communications
The 'Hot News' service was introduced in 1974, where important news were appended to each user's computer printout.
Statistical Software New Systems/Services
In 1974, the Department of Statistics acquired new facilities which included SPSS (a Statistical package designed for social survey data), MINITAB (a statistical teaching package), RADASS (Radioimmunoassay interpolation program used in biological and medical work), ECTA (Everyone's contingency table analysis), and MALAMUTE (Multivariate and Univariate Analysis of Variance). We still have SPSS and Minitab as site licenced software today.
Computer Laboratory Central Computing
This image shows what the computer laboratory looked like in 1974 with the IBM 360/44 in full action. (Image by Prof.J.G.Byrne from The John Gabriel Byrne Computer Science Collection)
New Student Record & Alumni Systems New Systems/Services
In 1975, a joint working group on information systems was established by Trinity and University College Cork to make student record data available on computer produced microfiche. The system also extended into the area of archival records.
Internal Data Transmission Lines New Systems/Services
Data transmission lines to the Department of Business Studies & College Accountant's Office were introduced in 1976. Further data transmission lines to East and West Theatre for recording of fee payments were set up in 1977. In 1978 four further internal transmission lines were also introduced.
DECsystem-20 New Systems/Services
The new DECsystem-20 went live in 1977 and performed its first administrative task in the Admissions application, where it was used to provide access to the CAO file of applications for recording decisions.
Data Transmission Line to UCD New Systems/Services
The data transmission line installed to the UCD Computer Centre did not go into regular operation during the year because of the delayed delivery of the DEC communications controller. However, a courier service was organised so that TCD users had access to the plotting equipment in UCD.
Computing Access for Trinity Administrative Areas New Systems/Services
An accommodation booking system for conference delegates residing in College, a Buildings Office stores application, and a computer based Graduate Register went live in 1979.
Source: IT Services Annual Reports Archive
TCD Hardware Catalogue Central Computing
The TCD Hardware Catalogue was first produced in 1980 to formally record the growing amount of computing equipment across College.
Entry Ports Central Computing
The 32 entry ports to the main system were frequently engaged due to a growing number of terminal users in College attempting a connection.
Link to UCD and Breakdown of Computer System INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKS
In 1980, Trinity was able to access University College Dublin’s IBM computer via a high speed link. In 1981 UCD helps Trinity during a breakdown of Trinity’s main system via this link. To repair the breakdown, DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) delivered and installed the upgrade from a model 2040 to 2060 processor which solved the problem and provided a much needed increase in processing power.
Terminals INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKS
A terminal room opened in the Arts building in 1980 which saw the amount of terminals across College grow to 80. By 1982 there were around 120 terminals in Trinity. The image below shows a Lear Siegler ADM-3A terminal (Photo by Pat O'Byrne from the The John Gabriel Byrne Computer Science Collection)
Fortran and Pascal Training Courses Personal Computing, Training & Support
Training courses on the programming languages Fortran and Pascal were running regularly in 1980.
Time-tabling Program CENTRAL COMPUTING
In 1981, a pilot of a time-tabling program was introduced and experimentally used for accommodation planning purposes.
Packet-Switched Computer Network INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKS
A packet-switched computer network was developed in 1981 by the Department of Computer Science, undertaken with the Computer Laboratory machine and in collaboration with UCD, the NBST, and European researchers. In 1982, users were able to access Euronet/UCD computers via the NBST packet-switched network.
Microcomputers PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
In Trinity, the first pilot of microcomputers for word processing was introduced in 1981. A microcomputer is essentially a small computer designed to be used by one person at a time, which today would be referred to as a PC or simply a computer. In the early 1980s microcomputers arrived across Trinity, which led to major interest in the course on microcomputers in 1983 and the requirement to support users grew considerably. In 1984 Trinity reached agreements with a range of vendors supplying microcomputers, including Apple, IBM, ICL, Shelton SIG/NET. The image below shows a Tandy TRS-80 microcomputer (Photo from The John Gabriel Byrne Computer Science Collection)
Special Extension PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
A special extension phone number (x1752) was setup to provide the latest information on the current status of the computers for those experiencing problems.
Apple II & Shelton PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
The Computer Laboratory got the Apple II Computer and Shelton in 1982 in order to support college users.
Optical Mark Reader PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
In 1983, the first optical mark reader (OMR) machine was installed for marking multiple-choice exams and processing surveys. An OMR machine is still in use in Trinity today. The below is the current model available on campus.
ICL Series 39 CENTRAL COMPUTING
The new ICL Series 39 Level 80 central computer was installed in 1985 as an ultimate replacement for the DECsystem-2060.
Ethernet LAN INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKS
The Computer Laboratory’s first Ethernet LAN, the ICL OSLAN, was installed in 200 Pearse Street in 1985. Ethernet is a medium of linking computers together, while LAN is a local area network that connects computers within a specific area (such as a university campus). In 1988 a new fibre-optic Ethernet LAN linking a number of areas in College was installed.
EIRPAC INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKS
Telecom Eireann's EIRPAC, Ireland's packet-switched x25 network service, linked Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, and University College Galway in 1985. EIRPAC was a replacement for Euronet.
HEAnet INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKS
HEAnet (Ireland’s National Education & Research Network) was officially launched in Trinity in 1986. In 1987 the external links to HEAnet and EIRPAC were used by many for electronic mail, the exchange of computer files and as a means of accessing outside computers. In 1988, a gateway linking HEAnet and EUNET (the European Unix network) went into operation as external network traffic continued to grow.
Enhancements of Microcomputers PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
In 1986, a workstation with a microcomputer with a braille printer and voice output unit was setup for visually-impaired users. During the same year, the first microcomputer lab/teaching room was opened in the Arches. Decentralisation of admin application to locally installed microcomputers increased as well, including Payroll for the Finance Office and CAD for the Buildings Office.
Computer Laboratory Services Group move to O’Reilly Institute CENTRAL COMPUTING
In 1987, the Computer Laboratory Services Group together with the mainframe equipment moved from 200 Pearse Street to the O'Reilly Institute.
Ericsson MD110 PABX INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKS
A new Ericsson MD110 PABX telephone exchange was introduced, which facilitated the connection of individual microcomputers.
Computer Shop PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
In 1987, a computer shop was setup on campus to help administer the sale of microcomputers and related supplies. The computer shop stayed open for just over a decade and closed down in 2000.
Global IT Events: The first GIF ever was made in 1987 by CompuServe (Source: Wikipedia).
VAX System CENTRAL COMPUTING
The VAX system, a new line of computers developed by DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation), came online in 1988 while the older DECsystem-2060 was being withdrawn from service.
Data Protection Act Personal Computing, Training & Support
The Data Protection Act came into effect in 1988 and the Computer Laboratory implemented the requirements of the Act during the year.
ICL UNIX Machines CENTRAL COMPUTING
Two new ICL UNIX machines go into regular service in 1989, replacing the ICL Series 39 machine.
Source: IT Services Annual Reports Archive
Computer Rooms PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
The number of Trinity-owned computers continued to grow in the 90s and public access computer rooms were set up across campus. In 1990, the Beckett Microcomputer Laboratory was commissioned in the Arts Building which was popular among all faculties. Later on, in 1992, the Beckett 2 Apple Mac computer room was introduced and the terminal room in the Arts building that opened in the 1980s was upgraded with Apple Macintosh computers. In 1995, 257 computers were available across all the public access computer rooms in Trinity, supporting 10,000 students. In 1996, four new computer rooms were opened in the East End and one in the Stearne Library in St. James’s Hospital.
IT Support Documentation PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
In 1990, there was a major review of existing publications which led to a production of additional guide booklets. By the end on the decade in 1998, all IT support documentation was available both online and in printed format.
Ethernet INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKS
The internal Ethernet local area network was extended to a number of new locations in the early 90s. In 1990, connections were made to West Chapel, Maths, and Physics, in 1991 to Moyne Institute, the Museum Building, Genetics, and Parsons Building, and in 1992 it was extended to Luce Hall, Botany, Zoology, Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Internet INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKS
In 1990, for the first time access was provided to the international Internet system via a private line to the Internet node in the UK at the University of Kent. In 1994, Internet and World Wide Web traffic increased to 12GB per month and the Internet link speed increased to 256kbps. Trinity were able to increase the capacity for College users to generate network traffic due to the availability of Mosaic (Mosaic was the web browser that made the World Wide Web popular).
Home Access Service INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKS
The number of direct Telecom Eireann telephone lines connected to the central system was increased from six to ten for the Home Access Service as users wished to use the facilities from home outside normal hours.
Student Administration System CENTRAL COMPUTING & DEPARTMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS
The Student Administration System was introduced in 1990, a locally developed and maintained system using the Oracle database and fourth generation language. In 1999, this system was upgraded and replaced by a system purchased and maintained by an external supplier.
Email PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
Email was widely in use and email, word processing and Library resources were driving demand for computers in Trinity.
Global IT Events: The first web page was created in 1991. (Source: Enterprise Technology Through the Years)
New Links INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKS
A channel was commissioned linking the Trinity Medical Centre in St. James's Hospital to the central College network in 1993. Later on in 1997, Foster Place and College Green were also connected to the College network.
Information Systems Policy Development Group CENTRAL COMPUTING & DEPARTMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS
An Information Systems Policy Development Group (ISPDG) was established in 1994 to prepare a 5-year strategic plan for information systems in Trinity. The group undertook a major study of Trinity’s information systems needs.
Helpdesk Service PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
A centralised IS Services Helpdesk (today the IT Service Desk) was established in 1995 and a physical help desk was set up for answering queries. Approximately 2500 computers were in place across College during this time. Later on in 1998, in addition to visiting the helpdesk, it was also possible to contact the IS Services Helpdesk by phone and online. By the end of the decade there was great demand for this service with 7,686 queries recorded in the academic year 1999/2000. The demand for IT assistance continued to grow in the following decades and during the academic year 2018/19, the IT Service Desk answered over 51,000 support calls.
Library and Finance Office Systems CENTRAL COMPUTING & DEPARTMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS
In 1995 a new Library system and new Finance Office system were introduced.
Departmental Developments CENTRAL COMPUTING & DEPARTMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS
Core staff of the IS Services department moved back to 200 Pearse Street from the O'Reilly Institute in 1995. During the same year, IS Services underwent a restructuring.
Student Printing Service PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
In 1996, the Student Printing service expanded and many small printers were installed in the public access computer rooms. Students provided their own printing paper.
Queen’s University IBM Super-Computer CENTRAL COMPUTING & DEPARTMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS
In 1996 Trinity, in conjunction with the Queen’s University Belfast, purchased a new IBM SP/2 Super-Computer which was installed in Queen's University and linked to Trinity via a special internet connection.
Internal Network Speed INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKS
In 1996, the speed of all new internal network connections went up from 10Mb to 100Mb.
Trinity Website PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
The Trinity website was launched in the late 1990s. The graphic below shows how the website has evolved throughout the years.
Connections to Student Residences INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKS
The first network connections to student residences were made in 1997 due to an increase of personal computer ownership in the student body. By the end of the year, approximately 50% of student bedrooms were connected to the College network.
Y2K Preparations CENTRAL COMPUTING & DEPARTMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS
The Y2K preparations started in 1997, where 3,500 programs across 40 systems were to be checked within the years leading up to the new millennium to ensure that systems would work beyond the 31st of December 1999. The preparations for the rollover to the Year 2000 worked well and no significant events arose.
PACR Group CENTRAL COMPUTING & DEPARTMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS
The PACR group was established as dedicated support for the Public Access Computer Rooms (PACR). This group was responsible for all hardware and software in these rooms and acted as a one-stop-shop for equipment failures and for changing user requirements.
Student IT Induction PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
IT Induction courses were offered to all incoming students in 1998. While most students arrived in College with some IT skills, the induction courses focused on how the computer systems were organised in Trinity.
Backup Power Generator CENTRAL COMPUTING & DEPARTMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS<
In 1998, a backup power generator was installed at 200/201 Pearse Street which was used to power the data centres and keep key services running in the case of electrical outages.
Asset Register CENTRAL COMPUTING & DEPARTMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS
In 1998, IT Services built a bespoke Asset Register system for the Director of Buildings and Treasurer's Area to track and report on Trinity’s fixed assets which is still in use today.
Senior Lecturer’s Area CENTRAL COMPUTING & DEPARTMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS
In 1998, several systems were implemented for the Senior Lecturer's Area, which included online past exam papers, the automatic production of degree certificates, the introduction and processing of anonymous marking and rollout of the GUI interface to the student administration system.
IS Services Group Structure CENTRAL COMPUTING & DEPARTMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS
IS Services had four major groups in 1998. These included:
- Computer Systems, responsible for the Public Access Computer Rooms, the Computer Shop, network, servers and Internet services
- Information Systems, responsible for information services to all users and support of administration and Library systems.
- User Support (Helpdesk), responsible for all aspects of support for computer and network users in College, online and the walk in Helpdesk
- Training & Publications, responsible for the IS Services web pages, handbook on computing in College, the "Interface" newsletter, training courses and student handouts on computing.
Symphony ATM Internet Connection INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKS
In 1998, Trinity participated in a test of the Telecom Eireann Symphony ATM network to get best use of HEAnet's increased international internet connection capacity. Subsequently, the ATM connection was installed as the method of connecting to the internet.
Data Warehouse CENTRAL COMPUTING & DEPARTMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS
The Data Warehouse was launched in 1999, providing appropriate staff access to information on students.
High Performance Computing Centre CENTRAL COMPUTING & DEPARTMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS
In 1999 the High Performance Computing Centre (HPC) underwent major reorganisation and improvement of the service provided by the IBM SP supercomputer in Belfast to enhance access by College users. The High Performance Computing Centre is today called Research IT.
Source: IT Services Annual Reports Archive
Helpdesk Calls PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
Over 21,000 phone calls were handled by the IS Services Helpdesk in 2000.
Student Network PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
The number of student-owned computers connecting to the Trinity network grew significantly throughout the decade. In 2000, approximately 100 computers in residences connected to the College network. In 2003, over 600 personal student computers connected to the network. In 2005, the student TCDconnect wired network service was implemented to allow the secure connection of over 1100 students computers. By 2006, 2600 student devices connected to the network and in 2007 the student TCDconnect service expanded to include Wi-Fi, which enabled 4200 devices to register to the network. Today, over 17,000 students with more than 30,000 devices registered for TCDconnect in the 2019/20 academic year.
IT Security PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
There was increased focus on IT Security in Trinity throughout the 2000s. In 2000, the Love-Bug virus was spreading worldwide with outbreaks of the virus recorded in Trinity as well. However, due to general vigilance, use of anti-viral software and the early warnings from IS Services, Trinity was much less affected than many other institutions. During the same year, the Information Security Policy was drafted, alongside IT disaster recovery and business contingency plans and required changes related to the Freedom on Information legislation.
The following years saw a number of addition IT Security enhancements implemented in Trinity. In 2001, the SpamAssassin email filtering solution was developed to help with a notable spike in SPAM email. In 2003, the first IT Security Officer was appointed, an IT Security awareness campaign was conducted, a Security Handbook developed, and the McAfee ePO implemented to allow central management of end-user anti-virus software. During the year an increase in spyware was noted, which was a shift away from traditional viruses. The College firewall was installed in 2004 and in 2005, IT Services was centrally managing Windows Updates for PCs on the College network. The new Password Manager service went live in 2007 to allow self-service for password issues.
Gigabit Ethernet NETWORK INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENTS
In 2000, the core of the College network was upgraded to Gigabit Ethernet.
eLearning Centre OTHER DEPARTMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS
An E-learning Centre was established in 2000 as a joint initiative involving the expertise from the Senior Lecturer’s Area, College Academics, Staff Development Office and IS Services to support best practice in the use of information and communications technology. This was a significant milestone in enhancing student learning within Trinity. Today, 20 years later, it has proven possible to run Trinity nearly wholly online with multiple lectures, tutorials and assessments having been conducted online in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Email PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
The email service in Trinity developed significantly during the decade. In 2001, the first Webmail email service was implemented, in 2003, the MyMail webmail service went live, and in 2007, Gmail (MyZone) was introduced as the email service for students, the first university in Europe to do so.
Audio-Visual PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
Audio-Visual Media Services (AVMS) were incorporated into IS Services in 2001. Audio-Visual (AV) facilities extended to most major lecture theatres in 2002. A few years later, in 2004, a videoconferencing suite was established in the Arts Building, and podcasting facilities in lecture theatres and a new laptop and projector loan service were introduced in 2006.
Wi-Fi NETWORK INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENTS
The College Wi-Fi service developed significantly throughout the decade. In 2001, the first Wi-Fi network was provided to College officers. In 2002, Wi-Fi extended into the Hamilton Building, Arts Building, Ussher Library, 1937 Reading Room, House 7 and several lecture theatres. In 2003, Wi-Fi had increased to 60 Wireless Access Points. In 2004, on average one new Wireless Access Point was added per week, covering 25 areas in Trinity. The Wi-Fi Guest Service went live in 2004 and the eduroam service, which lets you access Wi-Fi quickly when visiting other institutions participating in eduroam, was implemented in 2005. By 2006, Wi-Fi was available in most areas of College.
The images below show different Access Point models used in Trinity throughout the years.
Global IT Events: The website Wikipedia was launched in 2001. (Source: Wikipedia)
Network Extended NETWORK INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENTS
In 2003, the College network extended to Trinity Hall, Dartry and the Nursing Building in D’Olier Street. All network connections now used switched technology. The new fibre link was running at 1Gb/second.
New Systems CENTRAL IT DEVELOPMENTS
In 2003 a new accommodation management system went live. This allowed current students and CAO applicants to apply for accommodation online. The year 2003 also saw the implementation of a new timetabling system and a financial expenses system.
Active Directory CENTRAL IT DEVELOPMENTS
Microsoft Active Directory (AD), an identity management system went live in 2003. This allowed, for the first time, Trinity staff and students to use a single password for logging into multiple IT systems managed by IT Services.
24-Hour Computer Room PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
The first 24-hour computer room for students was set up in 2004 in the Ussher Library. Today, in 2020, we have six 24-hour computer rooms available for students on campus located in the Ussher Library, the Hamilton Building, and the 1937 Reading Room (1937 available for postgraduate use only). The below photos show our recently refurbished Mac Lab in the Hamilton Building.
IT Training Room PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
A new IT Training Room opened in 200 Pearse Street in 2004 as a facility to host IS Services’ training courses for staff and postgraduate students.
Research Support System CENTRAL IT DEVELOPMENTS
Year 2004 saw the launch of the Research Support System (RSS), a web-based information system incorporating an expertise database, built by IT Services and the Library. This system allows research staff and students to input and update their biographical data, research projects and research outputs, including scholarly publications, datasets, and conference presentations. It contains over 120,000 research outputs by over 2,000 authors. Approximately 6,000 staff and postgraduate students have registered to use the RSS, of which around 3,000 are still in College. The below chart shows the number of publications in the RSS by year from 2005 to 2018.
Data Storage System CENTRAL IT DEVELOPMENTS
Trinity's central data storage system was upgraded in 2004 to meet growing demand and to provide secure access to digital resources.
Social Networks and Blogs PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
There was a notable increase in the use of social networks and blogs in the student computer rooms in 2005.
Timetabling and Examinations System CENTRAL IT DEVELOPMENTS
A new timetabling and examinations system went live in 2005.
Link to Trinity Enterprise Centre NETWORK INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENTS
A link to the Trinity Enterprise Centre on Pearse Street via the HEAnet Dublin Metropolitan Area Network was set up in 2005.
Change Management OTHER DEPARTMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS
Formal internal Change Management processes were established in 2005 to enable best practice identification and implementation of required changes to College’s IT services. Its goal is to control risk and minimize disruption to associated IT services and business operations.
EZProxy System CENTRAL IT DEVELOPMENTS
In 2007, the the EZProxy system went live, which allowed access to Library electronic resources, such as e-journals.
iTunesU PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
In 2008, Trinity was set up in iTunesU, a platform that offered free educational content and courses for students and staff.
Programme Management Office OTHER DEPARTMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS
The IT Services Programme Management Office was established in 2008 to ensure industry best practice for IT project management.
Source: IT Services Annual Reports Archive
Core Router Network Infrastructure Developments
A resilient central router was installed in 2011 to allow for the introduction of new network services and with the capacity to handle increased volumes of data.
Global IT Events: Siri, the first virtual voice assistant was released on the iPhone in 2011.
Blackboard Learn PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
Blackboard Learn, Trinity’s current virtual learning environment (VLE) was launched in 2012 as a replacement for the older WebCT VLE. In 2017, Blackboard Learn integrated with a number of other systems including Timetabling and Turnitin.
SITS PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
The SITS student administration service (my.tcd.ie) was established in 2012, delivering an online portal encompassing student applications, registration, assessment, progression, awards and graduation. Later on, in 2019, SITS and related business processes underwent major improvements.
Staff Wi-Fi Network Infrastructure Developments
Wi-Fi service provision extended to staff personal mobile devices in 2012. Wi-Fi access was established to an extended range of central services, and additional Wi-Fi access points were installed in many locations.
RPAMS System Central IT Developments
A new Research Proposal and Awards Management System (RPAMS) was developed in 2012.
High Performance and Research Computing Other Departmental Developments
The High Performance and Research Computing Unit (now called Research IT) joined IS Services in 2012.
Network Speed Network Infrastructure Developments
In 2012, over 3,000 network points were upgraded from 100Mbps to 1Gbps. In the following year, the internet speed was also upgraded from 1Gbps to 10Gbps.
Cisco AnyConnect VPN PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
The Cisco AnyConnect VPN (Virtual Private Network) service was launched in 2013, replacing an older VPN service. Today, in 2020, this service has played a key role in the current remote working arrangements due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with approximately 700 staff connecting to the College network using VPN on a daily basis.
Connections to Wi-Fi Services PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
Around 14,000 staff and students with over 20,000 devices connected to various Wi-Fi services on campus in 2013.
Green Data Centre Central IT Developments
A new Green Data Centre was established in Áras an Phiarsaigh in 2013. The project provided Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Private Cloud computing capabilities and was short-listed for some major awards. The video below gives an overview of the Green Data Centre.
Student System User Support Team Other Departmental Developments
The Student System User Support team joined IS Services in 2013.
Telephony Services Network Infrastructure Developments
The Telephony Services joined IS Services in 2014. During the same year, the Cisco IP Telephony service was introduced in Trinity. Later on, in 2017, IT Services delivered an improved and enhanced telephone system for the university.
Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity project Central IT Developments
In 2014, a major Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity project was completed to ensure central College IT services remain functional in the event of emergency.
FIS Central IT Developments
IT Services helped deliver the new financial system, FIS, in 2014.
Router-Switches Network Infrastructure Developments
New distribution router-switches were installed across campus in 2014 to cater for the growth in demand for network services by students and staff.
IT Strategy Other Departmental Developments
A new IT Strategy (2014-19) was developed in 2014, which focused on ‘mobile-first’ and ‘cloud-first’.
Trinity Digital ID and MyDay PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
The Trinity Digital ID mobile app and the MyDay student portal app were developed in 2015. The photo below is taken at the launch of the Trinity ID App. The app was built by students from Trinity's School of Computer Science and Statistics (SCSS) and was a collaborative project between SCSS and IT Services.
Office 365 PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
The Office 365 suite of software were provided to staff and students in 2015. This later becomes the primary email portal for staff in 2016/17. In 2019, enhanced Office 365 support was provided for Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. Two-step sign-in for Office 365 services was also introduced in 2019.
IT Services Reboot Other Departmental Developments
In 2015 IS Services was renamed to IT Services, with the department restructured around the following areas of focus:
- Central and Distributed Support
- Management Services
- Academic Services and Operations
Digital Transformation Strategy Other Departmental Developments
The Digital Transformation Strategy (2017-20) was developed in 2016, delivering many services that have now, in 2020, come to assist in the ability to work remotely during the Covid-19 arrangements.
Mobility Project Network Infrastructure Developments
The Mobility Project was completed in 2016, delivering an enhanced and expanded Wi-Fi service, at that point the largest Gigabit Wi-Fi network in Ireland.
IPv6 Network Infrastructure Developments
IPv6 services were enabled on the core router and edge firewall in 2016. IPv6 is the latest version of the Internet Protocol and provides many technical benefits including a larger IP addressing space needed to accommodate the on-going increase of internet-connected devices.
Lynda.com PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
The online training platform Lynda.com (today LinkedIn Learning) was launched in Trinity in 2017 to complement in-person training, providing students and staff with free, unlimited access to high-quality instructional videos taught by recognised industry experts.
IT Security PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
The Wannacry ransomware causes significant issues worldwide. The impact in Trinity was low due to central management of security updates and anti-virus software.
Huddle Spaces PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
Huddle Spaces were launched in the Arts Building and East End in 2018 to boost collaboration between students.
MyTrinityApps PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
MyTrinityApps was introduced in 2018 to provide improved access for students and staff to a range of popular academic software through an online portal.
Panopto PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
Panopto was introduced in 2018 as the new lecture-capture service, replacing an older podcasting service.
Data Storage and Backup Project Central IT Developments
The Data Storage and Backup project was completed in 2018 to better ensure continuity of service with sustainability in mind. The project delivered a greater-than 50% reduction in energy usage.
Web Design and Development Other Departmental Developments
The Web Design and Development team joined IT Services in 2018. The team is responsible for the design and development of the Trinity website and supports digital communications and marketing activities in alignment with the University’s strategic plan.
Trinity Live Mobile App PERSONAL COMPUTING, TRAINING & SUPPORT
Trinity Live, a mobile app designed and developed by students was launched in 2019, providing Trinity students with a simple way to access their timetables, exam results, emergency notifications, digital identification, and find college locations. The photo below is taken at the launch Trinity Live.
Source: IT Services Annual Reports Archive
Where we are now - maybe not where we expected to be...
IT Services currently have 120 staff members working across 17 teams within the department – IT Service Desk, Training & User Communications, Service Delivery, ICT Facilities, Infrastructure and Operations, Teaching & Learning IT, Research IT, Digital & Web, Business Application Support, Programming & Integration, Business Intelligence, Application Design & Development, Vendor Management, Enterprise Architecture, IT Security, Programme Management Office and the Departmental Office.
Transition to remote learning and working due to Covid-19
With very little notice on 13th March 2020, Trinity campus closed for students, and staff started working remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The best protection we have is social distancing, wearing a facemask, hand hygiene, avoiding touching our face or eyes and coughing or sneezing into our elbows. During the following months while Ireland went into a “lockdown” to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus, Trinity delivered all lectures, tutorials, assessments, meetings, and events online. The successful switch to online service delivery for both students and staff was possible by making use of many technologies that had only been implemented in the previous decade, and even some that were put in place just in the last year. Some of these changes would have been much more challenging, and others not even possible, just five or even three years ago.
The Covid-19 remote working and learning arrangements have meant that we suddenly need to rely heavily on our IT capabilities to securely provide services online. The Trinity community is dependent on software such as the lecture-capture platform Panopto, the web conferencing programme Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, online assessment tools, Microsoft Teams, as well as training for all the aforementioned. Usage and dependence on the VPN service has increased significantly, allowing staff to work from home as if connected to the College network.
The development of consumer IT in the previous decade meant much of the world was now at home reliant on home broadband services and laptops - below shows staff running IT Services while working from home after the campus closure in March 2020.
While we continue to live through the Covid-19 pandemic we don’t have the benefit of hindsight to allow us to yet understand how this world event will change the future of how we work and study at Trinity. We do look forward to a time where the events of 2020 will be but a year in our history and we are able to be finally see the long-term changes and impact this world event actually made on the development of technology and it’s adoption across society.
We are putting together a time capsule to be opened again in 25 years’ time in July 2045, when we hope to celebrate 75 years of IT Services at Trinity. The time capsule contents are intended to help the future generation of IT Services staff as they try to understand the world and work of IT Services from the year 2020. We are selecting a number of items, including a recent Trinity newspaper, IT Services annual report, and photographs to be put in the time capsule.