CSIRO Computing Swings out of the Sixties

Dr Robert Bell1

1CSIRO IMT, Clayton, Australia


The C.S.I.R.O. Computing Network was started in the early 1960s, with funding of £3 million (about $87M in 2018 values) from the Commonwealth Government.  This led to the formation of the Computing Research Section, the building of offices and a machine room at Black Mountain, and the acquisition of CDC 3000 series machines.  CSIRO developed its DAD (Drums And Display) operating system, providing pioneering capabilities.  In the late 1960s, the beginnings of CSIRONET appeared, leading to a national-network in the 1970s.

Some of the history, highlights and lessons from this era will be presented.


Robert Bell has combined a career in mathematics, meteorology, computing and data with CSIRO spanning over 50 years.

He worked in conjunction with the Bureau of Meteorology from 1997, and retired in March 2019, but has taken up a part-time CSIRO Retirement Fellowship, working primarily on computing history.


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