A Brief History of Staff Notes—and UCAR

The internal newsletter of NCAR and UCAR has gone through many incarnations.

1966:  Lyndon Johnson is president of the United States, Walt Roberts the director of NCAR. A Hershey bar costs a nickel and a full lunch in the NCAR cafeteria costs 80 cents. Our top-of-the-line computer is a Control Data 6600. UCAR's membership increases to 23 universities. NCAR staff move into the Mesa Lab. Calendar Notes begins publication on 23 June as a typewritten weekly and becomes Staff Notes in November.

1970: The Brady Bunch is on television, The Wild Bunch in the theaters. The University of Toronto becomes the first international member university of UCAR. The Climax Observatory prepares to close; the High Altitude Observatory stakes out a Mexican eclipse. The first direct bus service to Stapleton International Airport operates several times a day for $2.20 one way. Staff Notes is still typewritten.

1976: It's the 16th year of UCAR and the 200th year of the United States. A west wing is added to the Mesa Lab to house the brand-new, $8-million CRAY-1A. The National Academy of Sciences calls for curtailing chlorofluorocarbons; atmospheric chemistry research gears up at NCAR. The National Hail Research Experiment is in full swing. Comet West wows predawn observers for several days in March. The NCAR Library's first interactive literature search facility comes on line. Staff Notes, now produced on an NBI word processor, introduces a two-column format.

1989: Time magazine comes to NCAR as greenhouse warming and the ozone hole seize the public's attention. The Scientific  Computing Division installs its second CRAY X- MP. A few months after Rick Anthes becomes UCAR president, Bob Serafin is appointed NCAR director. Wind-shear detection techniques coproduced by the Research Applications Program help avoid a major plane crash at Stapleton. UCAR adds the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET) to its growing roster of programs. Now produced via Macintosh, Staff Notes undergoes its first redesign in over a decade.

1994:  Bill Clinton is in the White House. UCAR staff--more than 1000--are in two major sites and several smaller ones. Climate models are coupling and computers are clustering. Profilers, radiometers, Doppler radars, and Global Positioning Satellites scan the skies. Staff Notes closes one era and begins a new one. The weekly newsletter dissolves into three new forms, all with an Internet component:

  • This Week at UCAR: weekly online information sent to all staff each Thursday
  • UCARline: email service bringing jobs, calendar, visitors, and other items of interest each week to external subscribers
  • Staff Notes Monthly: (print and online) features, profiles, and photos beginning in mid-November

George W. Bush is in the White House and Tim Killeen is now NCAR director. UCAR, which now employs more than 1,300, purchases three buildings on Center Green Drive. Scientists work on projects ranging from studying the interplay between landforms and the troposphere to detecting atmospheres on planets that orbit distant stars. NCAR lands on a top 10 list of the world’s fastest supercomputing centers, thanks to its acquisition of Blue Sky, an IBM SP system with a peak speed up to seven trillion calculations per second. And Staff Notes Monthly sports a fresh new look after undergoing a print and Web redesign.

2008: Climate change heats up, the economy tanks, and the United States gets ready to elect a new president. Eric Barron succeeds Tim Killeen as NCAR director. NCAR lays the groundwork for building a supercomputing center in Cheyenne while scientists undertake major field campaigns and refine climate models. Change is in the air for Staff Notes Monthly, which is renamed Staff Notes after the publication undergoes a major redesign. Publication is scaled back to six times per year (rather than ten), but with a higher-quality appearance that includes—for the first time in its history—color photographs. The Staff Notes website is also redesigned as a news site, with fresh content posted on a regular basis.

2012: Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube rule—for now, anyway. . .   Beginning in 2012, internal news formerly included in Staff Notes now appears on For Staff.