Who remembers: punched cards, programmers, key-punch machines, sorters, IBM Selectric typewriters, speedwriting, shorthand and computers that took up a whole room?
It’s like spinning a 1960’s fairy tale. The 1960’s - the heyday of IBM, which was the crème de la crème of the computer industry – the ‘1401’ being the most sought-after computer.
Charles Liponis, my husband, had been working at IBM for 6 years as Manager of Education for New England. In order for IBM to sell computers to businesses (no personal computers then), they needed to educate the users as to their operation. So IBM established a computer education program with classes held at their headquarters on Boylston Street in Boston. Charles with his degree in education was in charge.
But soon thereafter, Charles’ entrepreneurial bent took hold. After much thought (it was not an easy thing to leave such a successful, solid, progressive company as IBM, but leave he did), Charles decided to marshal his family – an accountant and two educators - to start a business school - with the emphasis on computers - in Andover. And the seeds of the Andover Institute of Business were sown.
Ninety Main Street, where the Andover Institute of Business thrived, is an historical building dating back to 1913. The structure was built by partners Joseph Myerscough and Raymond Buchan “for a modern full-service garage,” according to the newspaper.
Initially, the property housed a Victorian residence owned by William Odlin. But Myerscough and Buchan had big plans. They wanted this garage to be the latest and the greatest, so the architect, Wimer Martin of Boston, set out to comply by designing the structure to be 60 feet wide and 110 feet deep. It contained a large elevator capable of lifting 6,000 pounds for automobiles to be lifted to the second story for repairs. Also included were a blacksmith shop and a special room for vulcanizing. An 840-gallon gasoline tank was installed under the front sidewalk. The current entrance to the building - which now houses Bertucci’s and a clothing boutique - was the main drive-in entrance of the garage.
From a modern automobile garage, the Georgian Revival commercial building with arched windows, a main entrance and brick “quoins” on the corners (“quoins” being “a wedged-shaped piece of wood or stone,”) the times they were a-changin’ and the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (or the A & P, as most of us know it), moved in from 1942 until May 1963.
On Oct. 1, 1963, the Andover Institute of Business (AIB) became its next tenant. Charles Liponis, AIB founder, was a pioneer in computing, offering the very first course in computer training in the mid-1960s. He also saw a need for business training and coupled the two disciplines to emerge as a complete, two-year school.
While AIB was on the drawing board, Ray DeRuisseau, business manager for the Andover Townsman, coined the phrase, “The Business School for Today’s Business,” and it stuck. It was a perfect match.
Initially, AIB was housed across the street at 89 Main St. at dentist Nathaniel Stowers’ house. For AIB it was a start-up location and served its purpose until growth with its incumbent expansion forced the decision to move.
Right about that time, the property at 90 Main St. became available. L. John Davidson and Phidias Dantos, prominent Andover developers and personal friends of Charles, had purchased this property from C. Lincoln Giles, an Andover contractor. Giles was working on several properties in that vicinity including Olde Andover Village, where he merged the Stowers’ property with the Cyrus Scott property into one quaint shopping center.
Next week: Part 2 explores how AIB helped thousands of adults achieve important business training.