Mark I (computer)

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Mark I, left side

The Mark I , also known as the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC), is an early computer built entirely from electromechanical components in the USA between 1943 and 1944. The calculator was designed by Howard H. Aiken of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and IBM engineers ( Clair Lake , Frank E. Hamilton , Benjamin Durfee , James W. Bryce ) and built by IBM. It has a weight of 5 tons with a front length of 16 meters.

The calculator was used by the US Navy between 1944 and 1959 for ballistic calculations, among other things. John von Neumann ran the first program in 1944 for the Manhattan Project (calculations on the implosion concept of the plutonium bomb).

In 1998 it was proven that the Mark I turing was powerful . This made it the second powerful Turing computer after the Zuse Z3 .

The Mark I is now in the Cabot Science Building at Harvard University . Aiken, Durfee, Hamilton and Lake were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014 for their contribution to the Mark I.

Comparison with other early computers

Computer model country Installation Floating point
Binary Electronically Programmable Mighty Turing
Zuse Z3 Germany May 1941 Yes Yes No Yes, using punched tape Yes, without any practical use
Atanasoff-Berry computer United States Summer 1941 No Yes Yes No No
Colossus UK 1943 No Yes Yes Partly, by rewiring No
Mark I. United States 1944 No No No Yes, using punched tape Yes
Zuse Z4 Germany March 1945 Yes Yes No Yes, using punched tape Yes, without any practical use
around 1950 Yes Yes No Yes, using punched tape Yes
ENIAC United States 1946 No No Yes Partly, by rewiring Yes
1948 No No Yes Yes, using the resistor matrix Yes
Mark I, right segment


IBM's chairman, Thomas J. Watson, was upset that Aiken was posing as the sole inventor of the Mark I , and only James W. Bryce, mentioned his direct contact at IBM. The Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory then developed the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator under the direction of Wallace John Eckert in 1946/47 . Aiken, on the other hand, constructed another Mark II relay computer in 1947/48 ; In 1949 - also on behalf of the US Navy - the Mark III followed , which was already partially equipped with vacuum tubes and diodes as well as magnetic drum storage , and in 1952 the Mark IV for the US Air Force as a purely electronic device with magnetic core storage .

Web links

Commons : Mark I  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files