In the summer of 1944, at a dedication ceremony at Harvard's Cruft Laboratory, one of the world's first automatic digital calculating machines was unveiled to the public. The machine was the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, more commonly known as the Harvard Mark I. The staff of the Harvard Computation Laboratory was unprepared for the interest which news of the machine's dedication touched off, and in response to many inquiries they arranged for the publication of this Manual of Operation.
In January 1947, the Navy Department Bureau of Ordnance and Harvard University jointly sponsored a symposium at the Harvard Computation Laboratory on large-scale digital calculating machinery. It provided one of the first and most important early forums for discussion of the problems and approaches in the design, construction, operation, and application of computers.