Columbia University Computing History   

Raphael Ramirez

Raphael Ramirez was a Machine Room Shift Supervisor when I knew him in the 1970s and 80s; he has since moved on to Easylink Service Corporation, where is Supervisor of the Network Operations Center, Edison, NJ. His first e-mail was about a then-unknown operator pictured in the 1965 Photo Gallery:

His last name was Scolazi (I think?). In January 8, 1968, when I started, he was running the 3rd shift operation all by himself as operator/supervisor. He later left for California and came back to visit at least once as I remember. His first name could have been [John].

The TimeLine is really great. I went through it quickly just now and i did not see any mention of the many system programmers of that time. I remember a Mimi Church and I cannot remember his name but he was instrumental in porting over the old columbia system on the 360/91-75 over to the 4331's. He used to work for us and then went to work for CUNY and was "lent" to us for this job he did in a weekend.

I notice you have no or few pictures of any of the operations staff.

(Later, after I responded with a few questions...)

I started when the 7094/7040, 1401, 1410 and the Huff Powell Device was there in the back corner of the machine room. As I recall, the 360/75 was also there in a walled room (wall was taken down when the 360/91 came in) working with the 360/50. Joe Sulsona was the day supervisor and Joe Trnka was the Evening supervisor. There was no third shift or regular weekend work. I remember tapes were produced on the 7094 and taken over to the 1401 for printing. There also was a data cell storage device, a precursor to the data cartridge that came later. Actually the same thing but instead of rolling individual magnetic film strips in one data cartridge, they had the same magnetic strips in groups of about 15 held straight in long cases that from above looked like a slice of pie or pizza. These cases were installed in the drive and resembled a round sliced pizza. I do not remember the name but it broke down so much they got rid of it.

Years later we also had a Stromberg-Carlson film to microfiche machine. Information on tapes was copied to microfiche. We later got rid of it and outsourced the microfiche operation.

John Alvarez's brother Al Alvarez started one year before me and got his brother in about 6 months later and then me in January 8, 1966.

I was working overtime on the 3rd shift (No regular 3rd shift at the time) with someone else when Columbia was overrun by the police during 1968. It was eerie coming out at 8:30 am and walking past people laid out on the plaza bleeding and being helped by red cross types and the seeing the line of cops on the main plaza dressed as storm troupers. I believe I left with Jessica Gordon and walked through the campus. Also we locked ourselves in to the Computer Center around 11 pm when a PHD candidate [Alan Rice?] who was allowed to program and run the 360/91 during Midnight to 7:30 am to work on his thesis ran in and told us the cops had broken through the gates to Morningside campus and were herding and attacking anyone they found on campus.

It was Aaron Eisenpress who came and saved Jon Turners bacon during that transition. I also knew Ben Yalow. As I recall he always wore a white dress shirt with black pants and had long hair and always wore a pocket protector with pens and pencils.

What I can remember of Mimi Church was she was a big full bodied woman who wore here hair (white) in long braids. She was there in the beginning when I started. She apparently had many majors but kept changing from one to another before completing a masters, I think.

I have pictures of the five Computer Center supervisors all together (myself included) and pictures of when Aston Stewart retired and the administration decided to make a big party to soften the employee layoffs (Hank Butler especially who had not been allowed to retire - he had a few months to go) that had just occurred under the consultants, ADP. It was held in the DEC machine room that had just been emptied prior to the AIS offices being relocated there.

I will email you with any more memories that come to mind. I will look for the pictures as well.

From Reidar Bornholdt, 22 January 2012:

I recently read Raphael Ramirez' reminiscence in which he mentioned Mimi Church. I came to work for Cyrus Levinthal in Biology in June 1968. My first job was to design and program a high speed link between Biology's Adage graphics computer in Schermerhorn extension and CU's new 360/91. I had little experience with OS/360 system programming and Mimi was assigned to me as the comp center contact. I can't overstate how helpful and friendly Mimi was.

Mimi left CU around 1970 to go to Stanford and work with Larry Roberts. The last time I saw her was sometime in the early 70s in San Francisco; she was preparing to go to Nepal which she did and lived there in the 70s and 80s. She currently lives in Santa Fe.

Columbia University Computing History Frank da Cruz / This page created: August 2002 Last update: 3 April 2021