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Fascinating facts about  Howard Aiken
inventor of the Mark I computer in 1944.

Howard Aiken
AT A GLANCE:
Howard Hathaway Aiken with his colleagues at Harvard, and with some assistance from International Business Machines, by 1944 had built the Mark I, the world’s first program-controlled calculator; an early form of a digital computer, it was controlled by both mechanical and electrical devices. Although he went on to build other computers, they would soon be made obsolete by more advanced electronics.
THE STORY
RELATED INFO
BOOKS
WEB SITES
QUOTATIONS
DID YOU KNOW?
Inventor: Howard Hathaway Aiken
Howard Aiken photo courtesy The History of Computing Project
Criteria; Modern prototype.
Birth: March 8, 1900 in Hoboken, New Jersey
Death: March 14, 1973 in St. Louis, Missouri
Nationality: American
Invention: Mark I Computer
Mark I photo courtesy The History of Computing Project


 

Function: noun / early computer
Definition: The Mark I, was the world’s first program-controlled calculator; an early form of a digital computer, it was controlled by both mechanical and electrical devices.
Patent:  
Milestones:
CAPS: Aiken, Howard Aiken, Mark I, Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, ASCC, Harvard Mark I, IBM, Computer, ARYS, computer, Mark I, history, biography, pinventor, inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating facts.
The Story:
 

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
Grace Murray Hopper Biography   from The Great Idea Finder
History of Computing   from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
American Computer Pioneers
by Mary Northrup / Library Binding - 112 pages / Enslow Publishers, Inc. (July 1998)
This entry in the Collective Biographies series covers major players in the development of the computer, from Herman Hollerith, the inventor of punch cards, through the inventors of ENIAC and UNIVAC, as well as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Marc Andreessen of Netscape.

Howard Aiken: Portrait of a Computer Pioneer
by I. Bernard Cohen / Paperback: 412 pages / MIT Press; (August 28, 2000)
Through Cohen's painstaking research, including exhaustive looks into the archives of Harvard and IBM, interviews with Aiken and other principals, and his own reminiscences, the reader gets a glimpse into the partnership between business, academia, and the military, which, like it or not, propelled us headfirst into the Information Age.
Makin' Numbers: Howard Aiken and the Computer
by I. Bernard Cohen, Gregory W. Welch / Hardcover: 320 pages / MIT Press; (June 4, 1999)
P
resents the first complete publication of Aiken's 1937 proposal for an automatic calculating machine, which was later realized as the Mark I, as well as recollections of Aiken's first two machines by the chief engineer in charge of construction of Mark II, Robert Campbell, and the principal programmer of Mark I, Richard Bloch. Henry Tropp describes Aiken's hostility to the exclusive use of binary numbers in computational systems and his alternative approach


ON THE WEB:

Invention Dimension - Inventor of the Week
Celebrates inventor/innovator role models through outreach activities and annual awards to inspire a new generation of American scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs.
Howard Aiken: Makin' a Computer Wonder
The desire for answers to the questions raised by his doctoral thesis in physics led Howard Aiken to the conclusion that he would have to build a calculating machine unlike anything ever seen before at Harvard -- a computer. By Cassie Ferguson for the Harvard Gazette.
Howard Hathaway Aiken
Perhaps more important than the invention of Mark I was Aiken's contribution to academia. He started the first computer science academic program in the world.
The IBM ASCC Reference Room
The Harvard Mark I also known as the IBM, ASCC, the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator was the first widely known and influential large scale automatic digital computer  The IBM ASCC Reference room has tons of information on the Mark i or Harvard Mark I or the IBM ASCC.
Howard Aiken Biography
Howard Aiken studied at the University of Wisconsin, Madison obtaining a doctorate from Harvard in 1939. While he was a graduate student and an instructor in the Department of Physics at Harvard Aiken began to make plans to build a large computer.

WORD OF WISDOM:
"Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats. " - Howard Aiken

DID YOU KNOW?:

  • Charles Babbage's unfinished "analytical engine" from nearly 100 years earlier was the inspiration that Aiken needed. He immediately recognized that he and Babbage had the same mechanism in mind. Fortunately for Aiken, where lack of money and poor materials had left Babbage's dream incomplete, he would have much more success.
  • Part of the Mark I sits in the lobby of the Harvard Science Center, another section is in the Smithsonian Museum of American History, and the last part is in IBM's historical collection.
Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type. This page revised May 3, 2006.
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