Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1946. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITION of the profusely illustrated "manual for the electromechanical Harvard Mark I, the first programmable calculating machine to actually produce mathematical tables, [and] the first to fulfill the dream of Charles Babbage originally set out in print in 1822" (Norman, From Gutenberg to the Internet, 481).
"The Mark I, also known as the IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, was the brainchild of Howard Aiken, who first conceived of building a powerful, large-scale calculating machine in 1935;" construction began in 1939 (ibid). An imposing thick quarto with large photographs of the very modernistic looking Mark I, this technical volume full of computer programs must have been perceived as radically new when it was published. The computer historian Paul Ceruzzi, in his introduction to the 1985 reprint of the Mark I's manual, implies as much in the following description: "The Harvard Mark I manual was a milepost that marked the state of the art of machine computation at one of its critical places: where, for the first time, machines could automatically evaluate arbitrary sequences of arithmetic operations.
Most of this volume consists of descriptions of the Mark I's components, its architecture, and operational codes for directing it to solve typical problems… The Manual is one of the first places where sequences of arithmetic operations for the solution of numeric problems by machine were explicitly spelled out. It is furthermore the first extended analysis of what is now known as computer programming since Charles Babbage's and Lady Lovelace's writings a century earlier. The instruction sequence, which one finds scattered throughout this volume, are thus among the earliest examples anywhere of digital computer programs" (Ceruzzi, 1985 Introduction, xv). Item #225
CONDITION & DETAILS: Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 10.75 x 8 (268 x 200mm); , 561 pp. 17 numbered plates and many text illustrations. Ex-libris bearing only a minute perforated "UM" on the title page; there are no other library markings whatsoever. Bound in original blue publisher's cloth. Clean, bright, tightly and solidly bound. Near fine condition. The interior is also in near fine condition.