Skip Navigation
Curt Torgerson

Today's UW-Madison students use Internet registration, but many UW grads can remember a time when registration was not as simple as the click of a button.

In 1947, technology and the registration process met for the first time at the UW. In order to register for classes, students had to get a set of punch cards from the Registrar's Office. The punch cards in the set provided details ranging from address information to personal information for each individual student.

The students then took their punch cards to buildings around campus where department-assignment committees were stationed. Each committee provided a record of the classes available in each department. For every class students wanted to take, they had to get approval from its department assignment committee. This meant that on registration day, students were expected to run from one side of campus to the other for approval. Registration was a weeklong process, starting with seniors on Monday and ending with non-0majors and special students on Friday. When they were finally approved for all of the classes they needed, students had to submit their punch cards back to the Registrar's Office to be read by unit record equipment.

The multiple punch card system lasted until 1969, when it was replaced with a computer-generated registration form that allowed students to put all of their housing, class and other such information on one card. The entire punch card process was updated in the 1988-89 academic year, when the UW upgraded to a touchtone registration format. Internet registration began in the fall of the 2002-03 academic year.

More From Ask Flamingle HQ