County government's first computer, 1972

In this photo from January 1972, Pam Weik feeds computer tape through a portion of the first computer system used by Lancaster County government. Nicknamed "Archie," the NCR 500 computer was bought secondhand for about $65,000.

This story contains links that will take you to our archives site on This content is free for LancasterOnline subscribers who are logged in. Click here for more information about how to subscribe.

Excerpts and summaries of news stories from the former Intelligencer Journal, Lancaster New Era and Sunday News that focus on the events in the county’s past that are noteworthy, newsworthy or just strange.

25 years ago

U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts had his first week on the job in January 1997, and was welcomed to Washington, D.C., in an unfortunate way - on his second day there, someone broke into his car and stole his cell phone and loose change.

The freshman Republican lawmaker, who represented voters in Lancaster and Chester counties, had parked his Buick on K Street while attending a dinner at the Capitol Hilton honoring GOP Chairman Haley Barbour. When he returned to the car at around 9:30 p.m., he discovered a broken window and realized his $150 phone and some small change had been taken.

Despite his difficult first day, Pitts ended up serving in the House of Representatives for 20 years. He was succeeded by Lloyd Smucker in 2017.

In the headlines:

Brink's truck upsets; joyful residents make off with $400,000

O.J. defense says gloves switched

Charges against Gingrich to be aired in public next week

Check out the Jan. 9, 1997, Lancaster New Era here.

50 years ago

At the beginning of 1972, Lancaster County government offices were taking the first steps into the computer age with the help of "Archie," an NCR 500 computer purchased secondhand for $65,000.

That may seem like a lot of money - especially by 1972 standards - but a computer center outfitted with new equipment would have cost closer to $300,000, so Archie represented a considerable savings.

Of course, the massive computer also had to be literally pried loose from its old job at an undisclosed private company and transported to Lancaster, so some additional moving costs were incurred.

County controller Franklin McCorkle was keen to begin the process of computerizing as many tasks as possible, and in its first year on the job, Archie was expected to keep track of all county revenue transactions as well as voter rolls. More tasks - and more computers - would be added in future years.

In the headlines:

Veil drops from JFK photographs

Warm finale to First Lady's Africa visit

U.S. to seek permanent contact with Red China

Check out the Jan. 9, 1972, Sunday News here.

75 years ago

A tractor-trailer overturned in Lancaster city in the early hours of Jan. 9, 1947, and the cause was pure bull.

The truck was transporting six bulls to the Lancaster Stockyards when all of the animals decided to move to one side of the trailer at the same time. This caused the rig to overturn at the intersection of Lime and Liberty streets.

City police helped the truck driver extricate the animals from the trailer and herd them to the nearby Stockyards. The truck was later righted and emergency crews cleaned up spilled gasoline and debris.

The bulls were unhurt.

In the headlines:

Truman asks businesses to cut prices

U.S. pays Italy $50,000,000 for war supplies

Check out the Jan. 9, 1947, Intelligencer Journal here.

100 years ago

By January of 1922 Prohibition had been in force for two years, but Lancaster County, like the rest of the nation, was not booze-free.

In addition to various illegal sources of alcohol, there were exceptions written into the Volstead Act - the piece of legislation that formally established Prohibition. One of the most commonly used exceptions was the so-called "medicinal purpose" of alcohol. Doctors were legally allowed to prescribe whiskey to patients, for example.

The practice of prescribing medicinal alcohol was under question, however, and a survey conducted by the American Medical Association indicated that the majority of doctors believed that the medical value of whiskey (and other forms of alcohol) was insufficient to warrant a continued exception to the Volstead Act.

Fifteen Lancaster County doctors participated in the survey.

In the headlines:

Russia thinks recognition by powers assured

Michael Collins pleads for peace in Dail Eireann

Check out the Jan. 9, 1922, Lancaster Intelligencer here.

What to Read Next