In 1969, the lab’s computing facilities were in a house in the Fermilab Village. They were managed by the Accelerator Theory Section and consisted of a remote terminal linking the lab and the Courant Institute at New York University. A second remote terminal later linked the lab with Argonne National Laboratory’s computer system. Later, the lab acquired PDP-15’s and PDP-10’s to support physics experiments. Before Fermilab’s experimental program, most experiments managed their computing needs independently, but in 1971 the lab established a data acquisition system using PDP-11’s called BISON (Basic Instrument for the Support of On-line Needs) to serve the lab’s experiments.

In 1973, the lab received a CDC 6600 from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. It was installed in the newly-constructed Central Laboratory Building, where the west wings of the seventh and eighth floors were allocated to the Computing Department, which had been established under the leadership of Al Brenner in 1972. The lab acquired a number of additional systems in the following years, including another CDC 6600 in 1975, a CDC 6400 in 1976, a CDC Cyber 175 in 1978, and two Cyber 875’s in 1983 and 1985. The lab also acquired an Automatic Tape Library for storage and set up a laboratory-wide word processing system in 1978.

Hugh Montgomery became head of the department in 1984, followed by Jeff Appel in 1987. In the mid-1980s, the lab began planning a new central computing facility. This facility, named the Feynman Computing Center, opened on December 2, 1988.

In 1989, the Computing Department, the ACP (Advanced Computer Program) group, and some personnel from other departments in the Research Division merged to create a new Computing Division under the leadership of Thomas Nash. The lab established its first UNIX farm in 1991.

Joel Butler became head of the Computing Division in 1994, and the lab’s first website went live in April of that year. The US CMS computing project began in 1997 and Fermilab was named a CMS tier 1 computing site in November 2000. The first version of Fermi LINUX was released in August 1998. Matthias Kasemann became head of the Computing Division in 1998, followed by Victoria White in 2002. In 2004, the lab built the Grid Computing Center to house computers and network and data storage robotics. In 2011, the Computing Division became the Computing Sector, which included the Scientific Computing Division and the Core Computing Division. Rob Roser became head of the Computing Sector and Chief Information Officer in 2014. Liz Sexton-Kennedy became Chief Information Officer in 2018.

Computing Content

World Wide Web History