Computer Information Science Alumni Remember Nearly Four Decades in Tech
Scott and John Dolmetsch ’85 majored in the cutting-edge program when it was in its infancy.
In the early 1980s, York College of Pennsylvania had just launched its Computer Information Science major. John and Scott Dolmetsch, who grew up in the area, decided to enroll in the new program to find out what this computer thing was all about.
“I had no idea what I wanted to major in,” John says. “When I got there I thought, this sounds pretty cool.”
At the College, both brothers excelled at coding and computer programming, mastering the language of COBOL before MS-DOS was widely used. They spent a lot of time with their professors, helping in the lab and with figuring out each new technology that was introduced.
“Neither one of us has any artistic ability,” John says. “What’s interesting about it is it was hard-core computer programming. Computer programming is an art; you have to have a knack for it. It’s not just the language, it’s the logical thinking. It became natural for both of us. It’s something we’re both really, really good at.”
Their first PC
A lot of their fellow students struggled in the major, but John and Scott excelled, not only in computer programming but in the York College culture.
“We spent a lot of time at Murph’s [Study Hall],” a bar around the corner, John says. “We became very good at foosball. When you’re good at things you tend to enjoy it, so it was an enjoyable experience.”
After graduating in 1985, the brothers entered the workforce, programming computers and software. John was one of only two students chosen for an internship at the York Tax Bureau, working to develop a new tax software.
After that internship, the brothers began working for a software development company in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Early in their tenure, they were introduced to the personal computer.
John left the software company to perform computer programming for Fox Pools Corp., where he was in charge of its PC infrastructure.
These experiences, coupled with their training at York College, inspired the brothers to launch their own company.
“Being exposed to this new world‒and you had a whole subset of people who didn’t believe in the personal computer‒because we had experience, we started working part-time doing PC work for companies,” John says.
“The timing was just awesome,” Scott says. “We were walking into companies who said, ‘We don’t have any computers. We keep hearing about this personal computer, and we’d like to know what it can do for us.’”
In 1992, the brothers launched Business Information Group (BIG) from the basement of their York home. They spent their days installing computer systems and software at local companies.
“The 1990s was the birth of the internet,” John says. “It was fast and it was crazy and everybody wanted to be part of it. It was the heyday of technology.”
“It was open market,” Scott says. “There weren’t a lot of firms specializing in it.”
Growing and giving back
As their company grew to over 100 employees and moved into office space in downtown York, the brothers made giving back to the York College community a priority. They set up internship programs and have hired several York College students.
“York College gave us the basis to get started,” Scott says. “On that, the rest of the building was established: the ability to learn, the ability to think outside the box, the ability to take something new and figure out what to do with it.”
John also began serving on the York College Advisory Council for Technology Curriculum Development.
“We know the people, we know the businesses. There was plenty of opportunity. There was no reason to leave,” Scott says of staying in York.