1946 · Cambridge
by Aiken, Howard; Grace Hopper; Harvard Computation Laboratory
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1946. [Aiken, Howard Hathaway (1900-1973) and Grace Murray Hopper (1906-92).] A manual of operation for the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator by the staff of the Computation Laboratory. , 561 pp. 17 numbered plates (including frontispiece), text illustrations. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1946. 268 x 200 mm. Original dark blue cloth, dust-jacket (skillfully repaired). Minor finger-soiling, but very good. From the library of computing pioneer Frank M. Verzuh (1918-2000), with his stamp on the front free endpaper. First Edition, in the Extremely Rare Dust-Jacket. This is the only copy of this work in dust-jacket that we have ever handled. The Harvard Mark I, also known as the IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, was the brainchild of Howard Aiken, who first conceived of building a powerful, large-scale calculating machine in 1935 while pursuing graduate studies in physics at Harvard University. In 1937, after Aiken had become a professor of applied mathematics at Harvard's Graduate School of Engineering, he proposed his idea to a number of calculating-machine manufacturers, receiving several rejections before finally convincing IBM to undertake the project. Construction of the Mark I was completed in early 1943, and a year later the machine was dismantled and shipped to Harvard, where it became operational in May 1944. After the Mark I was set up it was immediately commandeered for war work by the United States Navy. Aiken, a commander in the United States Naval Reserve (USNR), was put in charge of the navy's computation project, and he later joked that he was first naval officer ever to command a computer. One of Aiken's staff was Lieutenant (later Admiral) Grace M. Hopper, a mathematician who, in her own words, had "never met a digit" until joining the Computation Laboratory; she would go on to become one of the most famous of the postwar computer pioneers, making fundamental contributions to the development of the first compilers. The operating manual for the Mark I calculator-published as Volume 1 of the Annals of the Computation Laboratory of Harvard University-was written largely by Hopper, who was the chief author of chapters 1-3 and the eight appendices following chapter 6. The Mark I was an electromechanical machine, based largely on existing IBM punched-card technology. It was the first programmable calculating machine to actually produce mathematical tables, fulfilling the dream of Charles Babbage originally set out in print in 1822. Aiken saw himself as Babbage's intellectual successor, and he and Hopper placed the Harvard Mark I in its historical context in an excellent historical introduction to this technical manual. This copy is from the library of Frank M. Verzuh, an early pioneer in the computing field. "Frank M. Verzuh worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1940 until 1960, beginning as a research assistant in the Department of Electrical Engineering, earning his SM degree in 1946 and his SCD in 1952 and becoming the first Assistant Director of the Computation Center in 1956 . . . Before and during World War II he worked under Vannevar Bush on differential analyzers and the Rapid Arithmetic Machine. Together with other leading researchers he attended the renowned Moore School Lectures in 1946. His notes are the only remaining ones for some of those lectures" ("Dr. Frank Matthew Verzuh." IT History Society. N.p., 31 Dec. 2015. Web. Accessed 17 Nov. 2016). Origins of Cyberspace 411.
(Inventory #: 44184)