From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Computer removal signals end of an era at CPC

by Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor, Inland Register

(From the May 23, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)

On May 3, a little bit of history left the Catholic Pastoral Center at 1023 W. Riverside, Spokane.

Well, it was a little bit, if you weren’t trying to carry it.

The AS 400, a legendary, albeit heavy, piece of computing equipment, was hauled away to a new home at Inland Northwest Dairies. Like many pieces of computer equipment, there was no cost to the new owners. The advantage to the diocese? “We didn’t have to pay to haul it away,” said Jerry Dufresne, director of computer operations for the diocese since 1984.

Dufresne described the AS 400 as “a mid-range computer.” At one time there were 44 work stations linked directly to the computer. Those work stations were scattered throughout the CPC.

The computer’s data banks housed information for all of the diocesan offices, from mailing labels for the Inland Register to fund drive statistics for the Development Office to the financial records of the diocese. It was the diocese’s “main data center. Everything to do with the diocese was in there,” he said. The information could only be accessed by those in-house work stations, operating with data sent in by parishes and other diocesan entities.

The 400 itself had replaced an IBM System 36 computer, which the diocese used for about 10 years, until around the mid-1990s. “This,” said Dufresne, “was a natural progression.”

The change reflects the way of all computers all around the country. At one time, the man programming the system was living in Montana, doing the work long-distance, with occasional visits to Spokane itself. “No one can believe that one,” said Dufresne.

The information now resides on the diocese’s two servers. In addition to data storage, the new setup allows the diocese to connect with nearly 1,000 individual e-mail addresses.

“The AS400 was very reliable and user-friendly,” said Dufresne. So why replace it? “We couldn’t get software vendors anymore,” he said. “We had to move to PC-based programs. If we could still get the software, we’d still be using that system.”

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