Department of Informatics

Lund University School of Economics and Management


Informatics – an outline of the first 50 years

Academic education in administrative data processing was introduced at some Swedish universities in the middle of the 1960s, this was based on a report “Academic education in administrative data processing” submitted by a committee appointed by the chancellor for the Swedish universities. It began at Stockholm university in 1966, and was followed by Gothenburg and Lund universities in 1967. At that time the academic discipline was already established, so an overall subject-name and department, with two disciplines and two divisions, was created, i.e. information processing including numerical analysis (faculty of sciences) and ADP (faculty of social sciences).

The full name was information processing with particular regard to the methods of administrative data processing, though mostly referred to as information processing – ADP (or later as information and computer sciences, abbreviated ICS). In the autumn 1967 the first-term course (term 1) and in the spring 1968 the second-term course (term 2) were offered for the first time. Not until the autumn 1970 was the third-term course (term 3) in information processing – ADP offered at Lund university.

Until the early 1980s information processing was a joint institution and located at Sölvegatan 14 (in buildings constituting Fysicum). The department was divided in 1981, when numerical analysis moved till premises within LTH. Information processing – ADP retained the label information processing and remained for slightly more than 10 years, before the department in 1993 moved to the current premises in EC2. In connection with the move the discipline and the department changed name to the shorter informatics, which is much more useful internationally.

The leading idea of ADP was that the discipline should be oriented towards the use of computers and computer-supported systems within industry, and not towards programming or technical calculations and computations. Those needs were already met by numerical analysis and later by datalogy. This is also the reason why ADP was associated with the faculty of social sciences. During some years in the 1960s there was a special-course E, an elective in the third-term course in business administration, with Börje Langefors as course-manager.

Börje Langefors (1915-2009, professor at Stockholm university) was the first professor in information processing – ADP in Sweden. He was very important for the creation and evolution of the field, he could rightly be referred to as the founding father of the discipline ADP. Langefors had observed that many attempts to introduce computers into the operations of enterprises failed since they started directly with programming. Instead he emphasized the need to start without presumption by identifying the tasks the computers should be used for, what information was required for these tasks, which were the relationships between different information-types, as well as how the information was connected to the organization and the business of the enterprises. Langefors called this information analysis, which should be preceded by business analysis.

For many years there were only independent courses in information processing – ADP. A fixed curriculum of studies was introduced in 1977, when the information systems curriculum was offered. It changed name around 1990 to information systems program. Since then the program has been revised a few times. A master-course in informatics was offered for the first time in 1993, since revised a few times.


Agneta Olerup, February 2018