In the summer of 1944, at a dedication ceremony at Harvard's Cruft Laboratory, one of the world's first automatic digital calculating machines was unveiled to the public. The machine was the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, more commonly known as the Harvard Mark I. The staff of the Harvard Computation Laboratory was unprepared for the interest which news of the machine's dedication touched off, and in response to many inquiries they arranged for the publication of this Manual of Operation.
If the Mark I itself was a milestone in digital computing, so was this Manual: it was one of the first publications to address the fundamental question of how to get a computer to solve problems. Scattered throughout the book are listings of operation codes that represent sequences of operations the Mark I would carry out: these are among the first examples anywhere of what are now called computer programs. Both this Manual of Operation and the computer it describes reveal the profound transition from an age when computing was something human beings did, with varying degrees of mechanical aids, to one where machines themselves do most of the work.
A Manual of Operation for the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator was originally published in 1946 by Harvard University Press. It is Volume VII in the Charles babbage Institute reprint series.
In January 1947, the Navy Department Bureau of Ordnance and Harvard University jointly sponsored a symposium at the Harvard Computation Laboratory on large-scale digital calculating machinery. It provided one of the first and most important early forums for discussion of the problems and approaches in the design, construction, operation, and application of computers. Coming before the establishment of professional journals, societies, or regular meetings in computer science, the proceedings of the symposium offer the best picture of computing technology in the early years that we have available. Included are papers by Howard Aiken, Samuel Caldwell, Jay Forrester, Herman Goldstine, John Mauchly, George Stibitz, and over twenty others.
Proceedings of a Symposium on Large-Scale Digital Calculating Machinery was published in 1948 by Harvard University Press. It is Volume VIII in the Charles Babbage Institute Reprint Series.