University of South Florida

College of Engineering

USF College of Engineering News

USF’s Computer Science & Engineering Commemorates Past, and Contemplates Future, Technological Advances

Tampa, Florida – May 13, 2024 – The Department of Computer Science and Engineering proudly observes two significant milestones this year: the 35th anniversary of pioneering Internet access in Tampa and the 30th anniversary of the introduction of, marking three decades of digital presence and innovation.

Commenting on these milestones, Dr. Lawrence Hall, Distinguished University Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, notes that USF has gone from point to point connections on phone lines, to such high speed internet that one has to be on campus when working with really big files or wait, wait, wait for pretty good home internet.  Search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) have enabled us to find lots of good information on the internet.  Faculty and students interact through the internet in Canvas and find “online” information about new semesters and Computer Science and Engineering at USF.

On May 3, 1989, USF introduced the Internet to Tampa, becoming one of the first institutions in the region to provide access to this technology. For many people in the Tampa Bay area and beyond, their first exposure to the Internet was as students at USF. This initiative not only facilitated academic research and collaboration but also laid the foundation for Tampa Bay's technological growth.

The initial connection was created in the Engineering Building (ENB) to connect the Departments of Computer Science and Engineering and Electrical Engineering to the fledgling Internet. The connection was partially paid through internal funding with the strong support of then Vice President of Research, Dr. George Newkome, underscoring USF's dedication to technological advancement and research.

Joseph Gomes, who is now the Director of Technology and Systems for the Healthcare Informatics Institute, was involved with the first Internet connectivity at USF.  “Our first Internet connection was a small fraction of the bandwidth of what we have today.  It was less than one megabit per second – about a hundredth of what people have in their homes now.  Setting up the equipment the first time was complicated; we had to rely on paper manuals and the handful of people around the country at other universities to solve problems. Nobody here had done this before.” said Joe.

About five years later in early 1994, USF launched the first version of

Dr. Richard Rauscher, now a Professor of Practice in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering but then a systems administrator in the College of Engineering, recalled the early days of, saying, "When we first activated, the web was a relatively small place, filled mostly with technical university types. Things we take for granted today were more difficult.  For example, we didn’t have digital photography. If we wanted to put a picture on the web, we had to take the photograph with a camera, get the film developed and scan it. I didn’t have access to a flatbed scanner, but we did have a 35mm slide scanner. So, I bought some slide film and took some pictures around campus for some of the earliest pages that we posted.”


A modern recreation of the first web page

At the time went online, there were only an estimated 2000 websites in the world.

"As we celebrate these significant milestones, we look eagerly to the future with plans to open a new college focused on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and computing," said Dr. Sudeep Sarkar, Chair of the Computer Science and Engineering department. "Over the last thirty-five years, the Internet and web have profoundly transformed society, reshaping how we communicate, work, and solve complex problems. The next thirty-five years are rife with opportunities for innovation and growth. At USF, we are dedicated to shaping the future of technology and continuing our tradition of excellence and leadership in the digital frontier."

AI technologies were used to proofread and improve structure and the readability of this article.  

Return to article listing


About Engineering News

News about engineering excellence by world class faculty, and outstanding students and alumni of the College of Engineering.