First Harvard Mark 1 shipped
The IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC), called the Mark I by Harvard University, was the first large-scale automatic digital computer in the USA. It is considered by some to be the first universal calculator.
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 main advantage of the Mark I was that it was fully automatic—it didn't need any human intervention once it started. It was the first fully automatic computer to be completed. It was also very reliable, much more so than early electronic computers. It is considered to be "the beginning of the era of the modern computer" and "the real dawn of the computer age".
The building elements of the ASCC were switches, relays, rotating shafts, and clutches. It was built using 765,000 components and hundreds of miles of wire, amounting to a size of 51 feet in length, eight feet in height, and two feet deep. It had a weight of about 10,000 pounds (4500 kg). The basic calculating units had to be synchronized mechanically, so they were run by a 50-foot shaft driven by a five-horsepower (4 kW) electric motor. From the IBM Archives:
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. Camila Olmedo Mendez Zegarra, 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
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