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The Mark I: the first large-scale automatic calculator and
an essential precursor of electronic computers

First edition of the first widely available description,
also with the first published tables calculated by the Mark I

The Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, first edition

"The machine now described, 'The Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator,' is a realisation of Babbage's project in principle, although its physical form has the benefit of twentieth century engineering and mass-production methods... Prof. Aiken estimates that the calculator is nearly a hundred times as fast as a well-equipped manual computer; running twenty-four hours a day, as it does, it may do six month's work in a day."

-L.J. Comrie on the Mark 1

AIKEN, Howard Hathaway and Grace Murray HOPPER. The automatic sequence controlled calculator  I [II, III]. In Electrical Engineering 65 (1946), pp. 384-91, 445-54, 522-28. Together three parts (nos. 8-9, 10, and 11). Quarto, original printed wrappers; custom box. WITH: Harvard Computation Laboratory. Tables of the modified Hankel functions of order one-third and of their derivatives. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1945. Original blue cloth. $2400.

First edition of the famous three-part article on the Mark I. Based largely on Aiken and Hopper's Manual of Operation for the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (which had very limited distribution), Aiken and Hopper's article was the first published description of the Mark I to reach a wide audience. The first part of the article begins with an informative history of computing instruments. WITH: The first published tables calculated by the Mark I and therefore the first published mathematical tables calculated by a programmed automatic computer.

"With three other engineersóClair D. Lake, B.M. Durfee, and F.E. HamiltonóAiken began work in 1939 on an automatic calculating machine that could perform any selected sequence of five arithmetical operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and reference to previous results) without human intervention. The first such machine, the Mark I, was completed by Aiken and his partners in February 1944: 51 feet (15.3 m) long and 8 feet (2.4 m) high, it weighed 35 tons (31,500 kg) and contained about 500 miles (800 km) of wire and more than 3,000,000 connections. The Mark I was programmed to solve problems by means of a paper tape on which coded instructions were punched. Once so programmed, the calculator could be operated by persons with little training. The Mark I was used by the U.S. Navy for work in gunnery, ballistics, and design." (Britannica). The Mark I digital computer was at work at Harvard University in 1944 and after the war the possibility of using it for a wide range of industrial, administrative, and scientific applications was quickly realized. The early computers, however, were large and expensive machines, and their general application was delayed until the invention of the transistor revolutionized computer technology. Very light wear to wrappers.

WITH: Tables of the modified Hankel functions of order one-third and of their derivatives:

The first published tables produced by the Mark I were published in 1945, preceding both Aiken and Hopper's Manual of Operation and The Automatic sequence controlled calculator. Aiken notes in the Preface that the tables, produced with a computation time of 45 days, would have taken years to complete without the aid of the Mark I. Original cloth with rubbing to spine ends; ex-libris Carlton College Library with library call number on spine, bookplate and library pocket on front pastedown, and small embossed stamp on title. (Image below, please click to enlarge).
 

 

Science/Technology/Medicine

Literature/Modern Firsts

Americana/History/Travel

Art/Illustrated/Children's