In the spring of 1948 Howard Aiken (1900–1973) hired Wang to work at the Harvard Computation Laboratory. This institution had built the ASSC Mark I, one of the world’s first digital computers, a few years earlier and was developing more advanced machines under a contract from the U.S. Air Force. Aiken asked Wang to develop a way to store and retrieve data in a computer using magnetic devices. Wang studied the magnetic properties of small doughnut-shaped rings of ferromagnetic material, or materials that can become highly magnetized. Wang soon developed a process where one could read the information stored in a ring by passing a current around it.
In the mid-1960s Wang invented a digital logarithmic converter that made it possible to perform routine arithmetic electronically at high speeds and relatively low cost. Wang desktop calculators were soon available commercially, replacing traditional machines with mechanical parts. Several calculators operated on one processing unit. These early electronic calculators sold for over one thousand dollars per keyboard.
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