The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

Sort Interviews by Affiliation or Theme

Tom Yates Oral History Interview. February 10, 2016

Tom Yates Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Mike Dicianna.

February 10, 2016

Location:  Valley Library, Oregon State University.

Tom Yates (b. 1927) was among the very first individuals to be hired as a computer programmer by the state of Oregon. Trained in mathematics and intending to become a teacher, Yates instead discovered a love of computers in the mid-1950s. In 1957, the state hired Yates to fill the newly created position of Electronic Data Processing programmer, and over the course of the next five years he wrote programs that supported the functions of multiple governmental departments. In 1962, Yates accepted a position as director of the Statistics department computer lab at Oregon State University, and he later proved crucial to expansion of computing functions on campus, including the automation of OSU's class registration process. In 1976, he was named Director of the OSU Computer Center, a position that he held until his retirement from Oregon State in 1985. His interview traces his long and pioneering career in computer programming, and provides institutional memories of the advancement of OSU's computing infrastructure in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.