Object Name: comparative display of standard counters and later IBM ASCC-Mark I counters
Inventory Number: 1997-1-0238
Dimensions: 16.2 x 18.2 x 19 cm (6 3/8 x 7 3/16 x 7 1/2 in.)
Description: This display consists of two parts--a smaller part (the new Mark I style) and a larger part (the old "Standard Pair")-- mounted on a nickel rectangular base.
The larger part consists of a metal plate with several gears, coils, and movable metal arms connecting the various parts. At the back end of the plate are many wires attached to an upright, black frame of insulating material.
The smaller part is more compact, consisting of two metal plates, each with two small coils attached, and an orange piece with a hole cut out for a dial. The numbers "0 5 1 6 2 7 3 8 4 9" are printed on the orange piece around the dial. At the back of the smaller part is a black plate with many wires looping through it. The wires are wrapped in a bundle further back.
These are examples of parts 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: on accompanying card:
left: NEW STYLE (2) was designed about 1938
right: STANDARD PAIR designed about 1929
Provenance: On March 13, 1997, the instruments were picked up from the Howard H. Aiken Computation Laboratory, 33 Oxford Street. They were transferred to the Collection by Edward P. Jackson, Facilities Manager in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Aiken Laboratory was demolished during the summer of 1997 to make way for the new computing building, Maxwell Dworkin. The instruments would have been disposed of if CHSI had not taken them.