Detail View

Object Name: IBM ASCC-Mark I model 6 latch
Date: circa 1944
Inventory Number: 1997-1-0235
Classification: Computer Part
Cultural Region: United States
City of Origin: Cambridge, Armonk
Dimensions: 9.5 x 8.8 x 6.9 cm (3 3/4 x 3 7/16 x 2 11/16 in.)
Materials: plastic, wire, metal
Description: Two levels of coil, each inside a thin black cover, inside an upright metal frame. The frame is mounted on a black, rectangular base, which looks like it consists of a stack of three metal plates. There are several pegs attached to the base on either side of the frame. A black cord extends out of each of the coils and is attached to two small screws in front of the frame. The CHSI reference number, 1997-1-0235, is etched in white on the base in front of the frame.
Signed: unsigned
Function: Part of the IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, commonly known as the Harvard MARK I.

According to a brochure published by IBM in 1945:
"The IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, an algebraic mechanism employing a unique automatic sequence control, is designed to solve, rapidly and accurately, practically any known problem in applied mathematics."

A detailed description of the history of MARK I, as well as how it works, can be found on the following website.
Curatorial Remarks: From tag: Model 6 Latch
Primary Sources: See IBM archives website for a history of MARK I.


Provenance: On March 13, 1997, this instrument was picked up from the Howard H. Aiken computation Laboratory, 33 Oxford Street. The instrument was transferred to the Collection by Edward P. Jackson, Facilities Manager in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences. It was put on exhibition in the entrance area adjacent to IBM Mark I computer on the first floor of the Science Centre, Harvard University.
Published References: Online exhibit about the ASCC produced by the IBM corporate archives.
Sign on