Exhibits At the Museum

This Day in History

Today: August 21, 2014
ASCC (Harvard Mark I)

August 7, 1944

IBM presents ASCC Giant Brain to Harvard

IBM president Thomas J. Watson Sr. formally presents the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC) to Harvard University. One of the earliest digital computers, known at Harvard as the Mark I, this giant relay-based machine was the result of Professor Howard Aiken's research into computation.

The Mark I was a curious mixture of punch card technology and simple electronics which became out-of-date almost as soon as it was completed. It was 51 feet long, 8 feet high, and weighed 5 tons.

Nonetheless, IBM learned about large calculator development with the Mark I and applied these skills in its own Selective Sequence Controlled Calculator (SSEC), another Giant Brain project undertaken when Aiken snubbed IBM by claiming he had invented the ASCC.