Milestone-Proposal:Harvard Mark 1 Computer, 1944 - 1959
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This Proposal has been approved, and is now a Milestone
To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation?
Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes
Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes
Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes
Was it of at least regional importance? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes
Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes
Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes
Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:
Title of the proposed milestone:
Mark 1 Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC), 1943 to 1945
Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:
DRAFT ONLY. Developed by Harvard faculty member Howard Aiken and IBM in the early 1940s, the massive machine was originally called the ASCC (Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator). The Mark I is considered one of the first electro-mechanical computers ever created and represents a fundamental milestone in the history of modern computing. The software required to run the machine was developed by Grace Hooper.
In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):
Unit: Boston Section
Senior Officer Name: Robert Alongi, Business Manager
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:
Unit: Boston Section
Senior Officer Name: Robert Vice
Unit: Computer Society Chapter
Senior Officer Name: later
Unit: Boston Section Milestones Committee
Senior Officer Name: Gilmore Cooke
IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):
IEEE Section: Boston Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Gilmore Cooke
IEEE Section: Boston Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Robert Alongi, Business Manager
Proposer name: Gilmore Cooke, Chair Boston Section Committee
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public
Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.
Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):
Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science, 1 Oxford Street Cambridge MA 02138
Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.
Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. The milestone plaque will be located adjacent the remaining section of the Mark 1.
Are the original buildings extant?
Details of the plaque mounting:
Inside the lobby of Harvard Science Center (1 Oxford Street), Cambridge MA, in proximity to the historical display that features significant components from the original Mark I.
How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?
The Harvard school lobby is generally opened to the public.
Who is the present owner of the site(s)?
Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science
What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?
The IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC), called the Mark I by Harvard University, was an electro-mechanical computer. The electromechanical ASCC was devised by Howard H. Aiken, built at IBM and shipped to Harvard in February 1944. It began computations for the U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships in May and was officially presented to the university on August 7, 1944.
The Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (Harvard Mark I) was the first operating machine that could execute long computations automatically. A project conceived by Harvard University's Dr. Howard Aiken, the Mark I was built by IBM engineers in Endicott, N.Y. A steel frame 51 feet (16 m) long and eight feet high held the calculator, which consisted of an interlocking panel of small gears, counters, switches and control circuits, all only a few inches in depth. The ASCC used 500 miles (800 km) of wire with three million connections, 3,500 multipole relays with 35,000 contacts, 2,225 counters, 1,464 tenpole switches and tiers of 72 adding machines, each with 23 significant numbers. It was the industry's largest electromechanical calculator.
What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?
What features set this work apart from similar achievements?
The Mark 1 was unique.
Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.
IEEE GHN Biography of Howard Aiken,
PARTIAL LISTING ONLY AT THIS TIME
Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to email@example.com. Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.
PHOTOS WILL BE ADDED LATER
Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).