On May 15, 1961, the Instituto de Cálculo of the Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales de la Universidad de Buenos Aires opened its doors. Undoubtedly, the foundation of the IC was one of the most important things that Rolando García and Manuel Sadosky have ever done, at that time dean and vice-dean of the FCEyN. The IC not only hosted numerous research groups that soon achieved international prestige, but also offered a valuable service to society and opened the first path where computer science would develop in Latin America. In the late 1950s, large computers began to operate in the few institutions that could house them.
In Latin America there were no such machines when the authorities of the FCEyN decided to start a program executed with remarkable precision. On the one hand, they managed the funds to buy a Mercury computer developed by the British company Ferranti, a gigantic collection of modules containing more than five thousand valves. It was not easy to get the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) to contribute the sum of 152,099 pounds for its purchase. Many of its members did not perceive the importance of computing in all spheres of life.
While these funds were being managed, the construction of Hall I of Ciudad Universitaria, recently named Rolando García Pavilion was promoted. At the same time, a group of young graduates were sent to Great Britain to be trained in the use of this novelty tool. Everything was ready for the inauguration of the Institute where Manuel Sadosky exposed to the guests, representatives of the universities, public and private companies, the plans to "organize a national calculation service to facilitate the use of the computer by all the scientific and technical centers from the country".
Since its inauguration, the institute has begun to offer a unique computing service in the country. Research centers throughout the region, state agencies, public and private companies made use of the computer that began to be known as Clementina. The demand was so intense that, to optimize its use, the IC organized AUTOCODE courses throughout the country with Ernesto García Camarero, a Spanish mathematician who joined the IC team. While this task of indisputable value popularized the existence of the Instituto de Cálculo, many research groups created. Aware of the development that was coming, Manuel Sadosky promoted the creation of the Scientific Computer Race, which for many years was the only instance of training of computer specialists in our country.
Sadosky's academic interests were reflected in the curriculum, clearly oriented towards the numerical calculation and the scientific applications of computing. It should be noted that the fluid dynamics group of the Institute had Oscar Maggiolo as a collaborator that year, he was dean of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of the Republic, in Montevideo. The relationship of Maggiolo with the IC was crucial and after the coup of 1966, Sadosky hired him to do in Uruguay the same he had done in the IC. Sadosky was also the father of computing in Uruguay.
From 1966 to1984
The intervention to the National Universities in 1966 had disastrous consequences on the Faculty, where a massive resignation of researchers and teachers took place. The IC was paralyzed until the assumption of Julio Kun, a chemical engineer dedicated to operational research. Kun had approached the computer while doing postgraduate studies abroad, and back in the country he had been in contact with the IC since its inception on behalf of Shell Company. Kun's main action was to start the Scientific Computing Career again, for which he recruited diferent specialists of this field, many of them had worked in the IC. During this period, IC's role as a service provider and as a research center was losing relevance.
A new cycle
In 1984, a new cycle began. A group of students and young graduates launched a project to recover the IC, whose role had been reduced to administrative tasks within the Faculty. Computing was no longer merely a tool for other sciences, but it constituted a specific disciplinary field and in this sense, the creation of the Department of Computing in 1985 absorbed the teaching and research tasks of computer science. In 1988, the IC was set up again under the direction of Dr. Pablo M. Jacovkis. Dr. Jacovkis gave a strong impulse in a difficult time for scientific activity and made possible the research in applied mathematics. During his tenure new research groups were formed, others were rearmed and researchers were invited to join the Institute. Dr. Jacovkis left the direction when he became Dean of the Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales in 1998. He was succeeded as director by Dr. Victor J. Yohai, plenary professor of this faculty with a prestigious scientific and teaching career. Currently Dr. Yohai is professor emeritus of the UBA. Dr. Yohai was approximately one year in charge and was succeeded by Dr. Graciela Boente Boente, a distinguished professor and researcher at the Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales who carries out her work in the area of Statistics. At the end of 2002, Dr. Ana María Bianco was appointed Deputy Director, co-director with Dr. Elena Martínez of the Master's in Mathematical Statistics and Associate Professor of the Faculty. During this management the number of researchers and interns increased as a result of their initiative. In recognition of the trajectory in research, the formation of postgraduate human resources and technology transfer at the end of 2007, the Superior Council approved the IC as a Research Institute of the Universidad de Buenos Aires (Res CS Nº 3412/07) . In 2008 and based on the new regulations, elections were held for the director and members of the Academic Council.
The information contained in this Section was provided by Carlos Borches, History Program of the FCEyN (borches at de.fcen.uba.ar).