The computing world owes a giant thank you to Gene Amdahl, who earned a bachelor's degree in engineering physics from SDSU (1948), followed by a master's degree and doctorate in theoretical physics from the University of Wisconsin (1952).
Born in Flandreau, Amdahl joined IBM and made an immediate impact as chief architect of IBM's 704 scientific mainframe computer. It far outsold initial predictions, cementing Amdahl's reputation as a rising star.
He left IBM in 1956, but returned in 1960 to become chief architect of the system/360 family of computers, a daring business and technical gamble that became one of the greatest success stories in the history of computing.
In 1970, Amdahl pursued his dream of building his own computers when he founded Amdahl Corporation. His new company made mainframe computers that ran IBM software at a lower cost, capturing nearly one-fifth of the market.
Amdahl founded several other companies in the 1980s, developing advanced computer systems and technologies. He was named a fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 1967.
Four-star General William E. DePuy looked toward a banking career when the Brookings youngster enrolled at South Dakota State in 1937. Reserve Officer Training Course was required for male freshmen and sophomores then. For the sake of the U.S. Army, it's a good thing it was.
The economics major excelled in the ROTC program, and at the suggestion of his professor of military science, Col. James Murphy, DePuy decided to continue beyond the required two years.
The 1941 graduate directed troops in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, was sent to Vietnam in 1964 and became known for his command of the "Big Red One" 1st Infantry Division, and in the post-Vietnam era worked to reorganize and streamline the Army.
He retired in 1977 as the commanding general of Army Training and Doctrine Command, the organization in control of ROTC programs such as the one he got his start in at SDSU.
A native of New Ulm, Minn., Jim Emmerich gained his greatest fame as track and cross-country coach at SDSU from 1946 to 1960. During those 15 years, Emmerich entered competitors in 13 North Central Conference meets, winning 10 and finishing second the other three years.
His 1953 Jackrabbit squad won the NAIA track championship, followed by his 1959 cross-country team claiming the NCAA college division title.
A 1940 SDSU graduate, Emmerich also made an impact with the U.S. Olympic teams. He was one of eight trainers to travel with the team to Melbourne, Australia, for the 1956 games, and was the head trainer for the U.S. Pan-America team in Chicago in 1959. In addition, he was head trainer for the Summer Olympics in Japan in 1964 and for the U.S. hockey team.
As a student-athlete, Emmerich was co-captain of the SDSU football team, which captured the North Central Conference crown in 1939. He also lettered in track and field. Inducted into the Jackrabbit Sports Hall of Fame, Emmerich died in 1993 at the age of 81.