With the introduction of large "mainframe" computers and the adoption of batch-processing, the user could concentrate on program preparation and testing while leaving the operation of the computer to full-time operators. To facilitate efficient batch-processing the Computing Centre at the University of Alberta instituted a Student-Oriented Batch Facility with the acronym SOBF which was usually abbreviated to SOB. Students were issued "SOB tickets", each valid for one run, shown on the left. Those who used their allotment of tickets could purchase "SOB balls" each costing a nickel and equivalent to one ticket and made of translucent plastic. They were dispensed from a gum-ball machine which had been bought at an auction. The picture to the right shows a card deck with a very simple Fortran program with the control cards required for batch-processing. The SOB Facility was used very heavily with up to one hundred persons out of the twenty-seven hundred possible users waiting to submit program decks or to pick up output at any one time. In the 1979/80 academic year the SOB Facility was replaced by a terminal-based batch facility.
Details of the mainframe computers operated or used by the Department may be found in two departmental publications, The Department of Computing Science: The First Twenty-five Years, and the much shorter and illustrated Computing Science at the University of Alberta 1957 - 1993 issued to commemorate twenty-five years of granting undergraduate degrees by the Department. The first of these publications has been made available by the Department as a PDF file at a more extensive history.