A Manual of Operation for the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator. Staff of the Computation Laboratory, James Bryant Conant, Comdr. Howard H. Aiken, Lt. Grace M. Hopper, foreword, Officer in Charge.
A Manual of Operation for the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator
A Manual of Operation for the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator
A Manual of Operation for the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator

A Manual of Operation for the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator

Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press 1946. First Edition. [2 - blank], [14], [1]-561, [3 blank] pages. Plus 17 additional full page plates. Publisher's blue cloth. Thick quarto (8 x 10 3/4 inches). Received stamp (23 Jul 1947) of the HM Nautical Almanac Office (marked through) and inked number on front flyleaf, otherwise clean and bright. Corners bumped, overall light wear to the binding. Clean internally, a nice copy. Very Good. Cloth. [27661]


The first volume of the important series Annals of the Computation Laboratory of Harvard University.

When the electromechanical Harvard Mark I (Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator) became operational in 1944, 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." (OOC 411)

Its then-unique Manual was no less significant. In the words of computer historian Paul Ceruzzi, the Manual was: "a milepost that marked the state of the art of machine computation at one of its critical places: where, for the first time, machines could automatically evaluate arbitrary sequences of arithmetic operations. Most of this volume . . . consists of descriptions of the Mark I's components, its architecture, and operational codes for directing it to solve typical problems. . . . The Manual is one of the first places where sequences of arithmetic operations for the solution of numeric problems by machine were explicitly spelled out. It is furthermore the first extended analysis of what is now known as computer programming since Charles Babbage's and Lady Lovelace's writings a century earlier. The instruction sequences, which one finds scattered throughout this volume, are thus among the earliest examples anywhere of digital computer programs."

A massive collaboration of many authors, one of the primary authors was Lt. Grace Hopper, an female programmer who later made significant contributions in the field. She was the chief author of chapters 1-3 and the eight appendices following chapter 6. "Aiken's Mark I opened the eyes of many to the possibilities of large-scale, programmed automatic computing. Actual witnesses to the developments of the mid 1940's . . . agree that its dedication inaugurated the computer age."

References: I. Bernard Cohen, Howard Aiken: Portrait of a Computer Pioneer (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999): Origins of Cyberspace (OOC) 411 (which incorrectly identifies plate 1 as a frontispiece). See also Ceruzzi's introduction to the Babbage Institute reprint of this title.

Price: $1,750.00