Skip to main content
Contact Us

Peter Lykos papers, 1959-1999

Identifier: 003.03.04

Materials by Peter Lykos, faculty member in the Department of Chemistry at Illinois Institute of Technology, related to the history of computer science curriculum at IIT circa 1959-1999.


  • 1959-1999


Language of Materials

Records are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Research

Collection Size

6 Folders

Biographical Note

Emeritus Professor of Chemistry Peter Lykos joined the Department of Chemistry in 1955, retiring in 2013. He had a distinguished academic career as a physical chemist and a strong interest in the area of computers in chemistry, now known as computational chemistry. Lykos was a pioneer in the use of computers in the classroom, introducing them to IIT classes in 1959, and was also instrumental in the development of IIT's Saturday program, teaching computer science to thousands of high school students and their teachers in the 1960s. He took a two-year leave of absence from IIT beginning in 1971 to assist the National Science Foundation in creating a new Computer Science Division Section - Computer Impact on Society. He was an active member of the American Chemical Society and helped create the ACS Division of Computers in Chemistry in 1974. In recent years, Lykos developed two courses on the science of climate change. He was also passionate about the Interprofessional Projects (IPRO) Program, and his last IPRO project, entitled Global Warming and Community Outreach, reflected that interest. Lykos passed away on July 16, 2013. Source: IIT Today, July 24, 2013 as posted at

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Formerly 1999.041 and 2010.011


Important collection for its symbolic nature as evidence of the beginning of historic academic activity.

Related Material

1998.033 Bigraphical Files, 1998.176 Computation Center Collection


Quote by donor, Feb. 23, 2006: "That particular experiment DCP (for Digital Computer Programming) was, as well as the Charles Babbage Institute folks can tell, the very first time (in November of 1959) anywhere that programming a digital computer was a required part of a required course (Physical Chemistry) in an established discipline (Chemistry). The students learned to program the UNIVAC 1105 in octal followed by an attended run with an operator - all in one day. "They each provided the operator with three punched tapes: one with a log subroutine, one with data taken earlier in the semester and the third with their own program to do a least squares fit of that data to a straight line. Input was via a load routine; the output via a dump routine. In the first three hours of the day the students learned about a digital computer's memory, ten Univac 1105 instructions in octal, and worked through a sample program (written for a different problem but involving address modification to support looping). The second three hour period that afternoon was where each class section of 20 students wrote a program, in octal, to do a least squares fit to a straight line. "Thus in one day students who had absolutely no previous education about digital computers learned the basics and actually wrote a program to process data they had already collected in a previous Phys Chem lab. So they learned about digital computer programming, from scratch, in a context where they were motivated by having a meaningful problem to solve."


Catherine Bruck, University Archivist 1/24/2000


Part of the Paul V. Galvin Library. University Archives and Special Collections Repository

35 West 33rd Street
Chicago IL 60616
(312) 567-5993

Paul V. Galvin Library

35 West 33rd Street | Chicago, IL | 60616