The first computers in what was at that time called the Student Activiteis Office were IBM XT and AT computers in the mid-1980s with attached dot-matrix and laser printers. These systems were only used by our administrative support staff members who primarily used them as word processors to replace electric typewriters. Since computers were relatively new pieces of technology, they were treated pretty much the same way as other electronic office equipment such as typewriters, ditto machines, telephones, and copiers. Popular software included WordPerfect, DBase, and Lotus 123. Later, a small Mac was later added for student workers to use and it soon drew attention as a powerful creative tool.
The Student Activities Office soon turned in their electronic typewriters for their first computers. Since DOS computers required a lot of memorization of text commands and software used a lot of function keys, Macs were chosen for their graphical interface, new "mouse" devices, and desktop publishing potential. Since all Macs had built-in networking, we also used phone cable with RJ-11 plugs to daisy-chain our systems together so we could share files and printers. By the mid/late 1990s, we got access to the internet using tools such as Gopher, Telnet, Pine for email, and Netscape Navigator 2.02 for "web" access. Student Activities also merged with its parent office, the Office of the Dean of Students, and we started provding technical support for the other departments reporting to the Office of the Dean of Students and departments started getting their own websites.
After the Y2K hype passed, we began to implement our first web-based solutions. At first, we used FileMaker Pro's web publishing feature to offer custom websites for our databases. After a few years of sporatic success, we migrated to more industry-supported PHP/MySQL solutions. Once we were able to leverage the versatility, speed, and reliability of PHP/MySQL, we started developing on a more serious level. For some departments, we even built completely online solutions to replace all paper processes, and orientation even had online payments via a partnership with the UCI Bookstore.
In the 2010s, the Office of the Dean of Students family of departments was rebranded "Student Life & Leadership". UCI also underwent a campus IT consolidation and our technical staff and students moved to the Office of Information Technology. Under the consolidation, we began narrowing our focus to online solutions and began looking at product-based solutions instead. We began migrating desktop support, server administration, and other "specialist" responsibilities to OIT tech teams. Student Affairs also re-organized and SLL started to expand and acquire significantly more departments.
In the 2020s, we began with a challenging remote support scenario under COVID-19 pandemic work conditions and completed our transition from "do it all" supporters to IT specilists for online solutions, training, and techncial consulting. We also had to support a growing number of online tools and train staff how to use them.