On This Day: IBM Releases The Harvard Mark I

On Aug 7, 1944, IBM released the Harvard Mark I, also known as the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, which was one of the first mechanical operating machines capable of executing complex computations automatically.

Developed by Dr. Howard Aiken of Harvard University and manufactured at IBM’s New York Endicott plant, the Mark I stood 8 feet tall, spanned 51 feet in length, and contained 500 miles of wires.  Upon completion, the Mark I supported the Allied cause during the Second World War and would later be replaced by the Mark II in 1947.

According to Harvard University’s School of Engineering:

. . . the Mark I — originally the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator — represented a key step forward in the global digital evolution. Before it began operation in 1944, computing machines (some of them faster than the Mark I) each had to be designed to solve a specific problem, The Mark I, however, could use punched cards and punched paper tape to store data and instructions that could address an array of problems.

The Mark I is currently on display at Harvard’s Science and Engineering Complex in Allston with other sections of the original being stored at the Smithsonian Institution and IBM.

Photo: The original uploader was Daderot at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0

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On This Day: Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Was Born

Born Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon on Aug 4, 1900, she would rise in the ranks of British notables as Queen of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 1936 to 1952 as consort to King George VI.

Descended from British noble stock, Elizabeth would marry the Duke of York, second son of King George V, and give birth to a daughter that would become Queen Elizabeth II.

In a stunning turn of events, Elizabeth’s husband, the Duke of York, unexpectedly ascended to the throne when his older brother Edward VIII abdicated after a scandalous affair with American divorcée Wallis Simpson.  Elizabeth, as queen consort to George VI, stood by her husband throughout the Second World War and into the early 50’s until his death in 1952. Her elder daughter Elizabeth would ascend to the throne as Queen at the age of 25.

Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, would remain a popular figure throughout her life and beyond.  Elizabeth would die at the age of 101 in 2002 and currently holds the record as the longest-lived member of the British royal family.

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