Howard Aiken and the Harvard Mark I, lecture by Grace Hopper
Grace Murray Hopper
Computer History Museum
Place of Publication
Boston, MA, US
Captain Grace Hopper, later Rear Admiral, discusses her early career in the US Navy and her first assignment— assisting Professor Howard Aiken on the programming of the Mark I computer at Harvard University in 1943. Hopper describes the Mark I’s place in history and attributes several “First” titles to it. Built by IBM as the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC), and renamed by Aiken and his staff, the Mark I was used for many scientific problems including the development of the US atomic bomb by the Manhattan Project. Hopper describes the Mark I’s architecture, its basic operation, and the fact that it was running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She explains the intense pressure the project was under to perform necessary wartime calculations and the group effort required to run the Mark I. Hopper concludes the lecture mentioning major advancements stemming from the project, including the antecedents to subroutines and compilers, and the need for full documentation for successful programming.