|March 8, 2004, Vol.
74, No. 8S
CS Division celebrates 30th anniversary
On February 28,
the CS Division of the EECS Department, formed during academic year
1973-1974, celebrated its 30-year anniversary. Three decades ago, the
Department of Computer Science in the College of Letters and Science,
merged with the longer established EECS Department.
The merger was
characterized by some political tension among departments, but the move
served to enrich the EECS department and to make Berkeley a true powerhouse
in computer science and engineering.
Berkeley has had
a rich history of computer science research, even before any computer
science department was established. In the early 1950s, EE professor
Paul Morton built one of the first digital computers in the western
United States. This computer utilized magnetic drum devices, and Morton's
graduate student Al Hoagland (who also served briefly on the EE faculty)
laid down the groundwork research that led to the creation of the first
disc drive a few years later. Hoagland and Morton were respectively
considered the father and grandfather of the disc drive.
In 1965, the EE
department changed its name to EECS to incorporate their added focus
on computer science classes within the EE major. In 1967, the University's
first CS department was formed in the College of Letters and Science.
At the time
his was a highly volatile and political situation, remembers EECS
professor Richard Karp.
A committee was
formed in the early 1970s to deliberate the fate of the two departments.
Those who hoped that the committee would recommend to keep the departments
separate were disappointed when the decision came down to merge them
under the auspices of the College of Engineering's EECS department.
Despite the merger,
the University continues to offer CS degrees through the College of
Letters and Science. Currently, CS and EECS students take the same classes.
The benefit of
centralizing the computer science department under the College of Engineering
was to enrich the EECS major.
and EE are in the same department the two disciplines interact in fields
such as computer-aided design, circuit design and computer architecture.
This has helped advance the program at Berkeley. Our EECS students graduate
with a broad technological background and with expertise in software
and circuit design, says EECS professor Randy Katz.
The biggest difference
between EECS and CS majors is that CS students tend to focus on software
courses and programming while EECS students are more science oriented
and interested in designing hardware.
During the dot-com
boom EECS experienced a surge in applications as students were drawn
to the CS part of EECS. Today, says Katz, the major is much more balanced.
For more information and to watch video excerpts from the event go to netshow01.eecs.berkeley.edu:8000/BEARS.