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HistoryOfMIS

A brief history of the MIS group at UCD and its web site http://mis.ucd.ie. one of the first research departments at UCD to host its web publically. The site predates the main University public web by over a year and represents (for its day) a credible and useful presence.

The Management Information Systems Group at UCD School of Business in the College of Business and Law. Management Information Systems (MIS) was established in 1979 as a research and teaching group within the UCD School of Business. The masters programmes designed and taught by members of the MIS group have always addressed contemporary needs, to provide students of the day with skills and knowledge addressing the key issues of organisations, systems, technology and innovation.

Our timeline:

In 1979 the Management Information Systems Group at UCD (MIS) was first established within the Faculty of Commerce
In 1980 the Master of Management Science commenced.
In 1990 the first specialist MBS (Masters of Business Studies) in Management Information Systems commenced.
In 1999 the MBS e-Commerce commenced. Initially coexisting with the MBS in Management Information Systems, the MBS MIS was eventually merged into MBS e-Commerce
In 2005 the MBS e-Commerce was retitled MSc in Electronic Business (E-Business)
In 2008 the Masters in Management Science was relaunched as the MSc in Business Analytics
In 2010 the MSc in Electronic Business (E-Business) was relaunched as MSc iBusiness - Innovation through ICT.
In 2015 the MSc iBusiness - Innovation through ICT was relaunched as MSc Digital Innovation.

The Department of Management Information Systems was established in 1979 with a staff of five under Professor Harry Harrison. The department provided several courses in the Bachelor of Commerce degree. At the same time the Master of Management Science commenced, the first postgraduate degree in Ireland designed to produce business graduates specialising in mathematical and computational modelling for Irish industry. Derek O'Connor was a founder teaching faculty on the MMS, a specialism of which he was a passionate advocate. His infamous programming courses MIS3 and MIS4 covered three of four different computer languages. The Masters dissertation combined technical skills with actual industry challenges, with the goal of developing novel models and software solutions addressing those challenges. From the outset graduates produced programs to simulate, model and provide solutions. The first programs were written using FORTRAN and mainframe OR tools such as IBM-VSPX for applied problems like route planning for milk trucks.


While having commenced using mainframes, the MIS Department was an early adopter of microcomputer technology for teaching and research. The department initially deployed CP/M machines before becoming the first unit in UCD to make extensive use of PCs for teaching with the opening of the Microcomputer Centre in 1985 (section below). The "Microcentre" as it was known, was housed in a pre-fab building between the Engineering building and the main restaurant at Belfield. The lab was initially equipped with thirty Ericsson PCs with dual 5.25" floppy disks and 256KB of ram.


Sadly, Patrick Perry, a founder member of the MIS Dept passed away in 1987 and has since been commemorated in the Perry Prize for the best student on the MSc degree. This prize was sponsored by Merc Partners and subsequently by SAS Inc.


Throughout the 1980s we saw increasing interest and student numbers on the Master of Management Science (the MMS as it was known) and the MBS Management Information Systems. Furthermore large numbers of undergraduate students from Commerce, Law and beyond were electing to take our Operations Research related courses and programming modules (COBOL and PASCAL) as part of their degree.


In 1999 the MIS group launched Ireland's first masters in electronic commerce. The innovation resulted from growing pressure from business and academics to respond to the rapidly evolving business and educational environment. John Mooney, then Associate Dean for Information Technology at the Business School highlighted the crucial role of technology in any organisation's eCommerce strategy. At the same time UCD's Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business benefited from an IR£3 million donation from entrepreneur Denis O’Brien to support the Business School's technology strategy including a complete upgrade of the Blackrock campus's digital infrastructure (news item).

The mis.ucd.ie Website

 

As we know search engines rank websites based on trustworthiness, longevity, forward links, backlinks etc.
Trusted long-lived sites like mis.ucd.ie linking to www.smurfitschool.ie and other University web resources actually improve the SEO rank of www.smurfitschool.ie and other sites.
In the current configuration the MIS websites are quite self-contained, in-synch, and reuse standard University resources where possible.
mis.ucd.ie acts as a news and events source providing forward and backlinks for the other sites.
It redirects most traffic to www.ucd.ie/mis or the two related research microsites www.ucd.ie/cito and www.ucd.ie/cba.

 

year

urls from thewaybackmachine'* at www.archive.org

version

comment

'1996

URL 19961221022408

v1.0

A competent version 1 that would go through 13 revisions and numerous updates over 8 years

'1997

URL 19971016012325

v1.2

Better icons and the news article appears

'2004

URL 20040519162936

v2.0

The first of several radical revisions as we entered the era of content managed web systems

'2005

URL 20050324035726

v3.10

The first Plone-Zope CMF/CMS version, we are becoming more comfortable with Plone. New revs and updates are so easy to implement we opt out from dynamic tracking in the waybackmachine

'* The venerable Waybackmachine is one of the internet's first archives, it stores simple copies (usually 1 level deep) of web sites from the dawn of Internet time. A really useful research for anyone involved in conducting internet life histories, unfortunately it is an incomplete resource and often only really offers a snapshot in time of a front page.

The first version of the MIS website was created by Simha Magal. It was subsequently taken on by Peter Keenan. Blake Ives, visiting in the group at the time, arranged for the first ISWorld mirror to be setup in Ireland, the mirror was hosted by the MIS department and its old link can be seen in the first home page. So there are reasons why we are where we are, principally to do with the history of website development at UCD.

A bit of history and background:
The MIS subject area established its first web presence, http://mis.ucd.ie, in 1996.
In fact the MIS subject area actually went live 2 or 3 months before http://www.ucd.ie did in 1997.
From 1996 through to the present day the mis.ucd.ie web site has operated continuously (21 years old in December 2017).
With respect to an internet presence the standalone Smurfit website is a relative newcomer having been launched in 2003 (http://www.smurfitschool.ie); it was previously a microsite under www.ucd.ie/smurfitschool and now redirects to the standalone domain.
As it happens UCD itself did not implement an integrated web content system for its schools, departments, subject areas, and research groups under the umbrella domain of www.ucd.ie until the mid 2000s.
In the mean time mis.ucd.ie provided bibliography, publication and research pages for the subject area.
Indeed UCD's eventual RMS system modelled some requirements in part on functionality demonstrated on mis.ucd.ie.
This functionality employed the bibtex bibliography format for storing and presenting researcher publication bibliographies.
By the late 2000s the University's CMS strategy and system gradually stabilised, settling on a Terminalfour back-end, and access was devolved to colleges and schools.
The University's current system linking faculty research profiles in the RMS to college and school microsites dates from then.
In 2010 the MIS subject area registered three microsites - www.ucd.ie/cbawww.ucd.ie/cito and www.ucd.ie/mis - reflecting the subject area and its research groups.
The same approach was taken by the other Business School subject areas.
Harking back to 1996, the MIS subject area initiative to develop and roll-out a public web presence with teaching materials was pretty ambitious for its day.
On the subject of eLearning, the MIS subject area was an early proponent of integrating web content into teaching programmes to improve communication between faculty and students, and raise the visibility of research activities.
The MIS group led the way in giving students digital access to teaching materials.
The MIS group also championed ILTG's initiative in the early 2000s for Blackboard to be used as an integrated LMS (Learning Management System) for teaching for the College of Business.
Blackboard was adopted by the College of Business in 2001 and was eventually followed by the whole University in 2006 (although some schools may still retain local Moodle sites).
As a footnote, the role for mis.ucd.ie was first and foremost to promote and give access to the teaching and research output of the Management Information Systems group, something it has achieved at little cost bar some hardware and a moderate use of staff time as it has traditionally used F/OSS (Free/Open Source Software).
There is a lot history and a wealth of academic and research data hosted by these older websites, and they comprise an important archival resource recording research events and scholarly activities of the University.

 

The Microcentre

Computing in the Faculty of Commerce at UCD was located in the Micro Computer Centre. The Microcentre, also known as the BMC (Business Micro Computer Centre), and was opened in 1985. Situated in the space between the University restaurant and the current Engineering Building, it served the Business School for 10 years before being decomissioned to provide more car parking space for UCD's Belfield campus in 1995. The site was transformed into the "Upper Lake" in 2013, a natural wetland, wildlife corridor and rainwater treatment zone for UCD's long term development plan.

One of the first pieces of faculty marketing, propaganda we called it, was for the faculty of Commerce programme, John Mooney in the forground down at the Microcentre.

"I remember the day that picture was taken, we put the only colour machine we had at the very end of the row of computers, we turned the colour screen towards the photographer and angled the other screens slightly away from him. Very cute" PK

The Microcentre was originally fitted out with a number of powerful Ericsson PC 1030-002 computers. The machine ran MS-DOS, students used VisiCalc and programmed with batch files. The Ericsson was selected by John Mooney because it offered the best quality value feature set at the time. Unfortunately the market was less enamoured of these great machines and Ericsson eventually stepped out of the PC market all together. To following account from the curator at Datasalen gives us a flavour of the setting of this corporate drama.:

    "Today. Maybe you have an Ericsson, if so, it's probably a mobile phone,
    even a smart phone camera and media player. But as many other companies,
    Ericsson has also been a personal computer maker. 

    Think back to 1984. This is the year of the computing classics; the Apple
    Macintosh, the Commodore 64, and the first IBM clones including the
    Ericsson PC.  The Ericsson PC is the direct successor of Ericsson's first
    foray into personal computer manufacture, their first model, the Ericsson
    Step One. The Ericsson PC was very different to the Ericsson Step One, it
    was fully compatible with the IBM PC, it was an IBM-clone. You could choose
    either a 5.25" floppy disk drive and a 10 MB hard disk drive (the 1031-102
    model) or the 1030-002 model which came with dual 5.25" floppy disk drives.

    A year later Ericsson developed the successor to this Intel 8088-based
    XT-computer, an AT-computer based on the Intel 80286 CPU.  With these
    machines Ericsson had made a serious attempt to establish itself in the US
    PC market but had no luck at all. Americans preferred their own well known
    IBM rather than a completely unknown foreign machine. It became a gigantic
    flop. Even in Sweden Ericsson could notice the competitors and their cheap
    IBM-clones, and so Ericsson eventually sold off the complete datadivision -
    including the terminal-part - to Finish Nokia in 1988. And within a short
    period of time, Nokia too, withdrew from the computer industry."

    Tommy / curator, Datasalen

 

Ephemera

Found in the rubble of the old Micro Computer Centre after it was bulldozed.:

    Oh lucious JM, guardian of the micros
    On golden toes towards us he tiptoes
    Oh tender JM, tall + fair
    Treat our feeble intellect with care
    Listen to our mumbled prayer
    An remember once an undergrad 
                       you were!
                             anon undergrad