Chattanooga, Tenn. (September 30, 2015) – Nearly two years before the Tennessee Aquarium opened in downtown Chattanooga, and almost one full year before the Internet was “born,” Peter Burman became one of the Aquarium’s first employees when he accepted the position of System Administrator – Programmer on October 1, 1990.
The fledgling non-profit organization had recently received a large donation of computer equipment, so on his first day he began unpacking boxes and building out a network. “I was starting from scratch,” said Burman, the Aquarium’s manager of information systems. “Part of the system launch included setting up an e-mail system which was strictly internal. We didn’t connect to the World Wide Web until 1993, which was still in its infancy.”
Burman says the first year and a half was a blur. Among the firsts he pioneered: developing the Aquarium’s first reservation system, first retail point of sale system, accounting system, payroll system, human resources system and first website. “Almost no one saw our first website because hardly anyone was connected to the Internet at that time,” said Burman.
Technology keeps evolving which keeps Burman busy at the Aquarium every day. His current projects involve mobile cash registers, a new ticketing system that will be launching soon and setting up the connections that will allow IMAX technicians to remotely monitor and adjust the performance of the new laser projection system coming to the Aquarium’s theater in January. “The Aquarium has always been on the leading edge of technology,” said Burman. “We’ve always had great support to keep things current.”
Burman has recently worked through the challenges of deploying virtual desktop technology, Wi-Fi in all of the Aquarium’s buildings and aboard the River Gorge Explorer. He’s even ensured that Miguel Wattson, The Aquarium’s Tweeting Electric Eel, is connected to the Internet.
While Burman is the first Aquarium employee to celebrate his 25th anniversary, more than one dozen others will join him in 2016. Ten other employees will mark their 25th anniversaries in 2017, the year of the Aquarium’s 25th anniversary. “We are proud of all of our employees and volunteers, especially those who have been dedicated to the Aquarium’s mission since the beginning,” said Charlie Arant, the Aquarium’s president and CEO.