Aiken, Howard

Aiken, Howard (Hathaway)

(1900–73) computer engineer, mathematician; born in Hoboken, N.J. He was educated at the Universities of Wisconsin and Chicago before joining the faculty of Harvard, where he spent most of his professional career (1939–61). With his colleagues at Harvard—and with some assistance from International Business Machines—by 1944 he had built the Mark I, the world's first program-controlled calculator; an early form of a digital computer, it was controlled by both mechanical and electrical devices. Although he went on to build the Mark II (1947) and other computers, they would soon be made obsolete by more advanced electronics. On retiring from Harvard he taught at the University of Miami (1961–73).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.