1948, in the manufacturing sense, coined by Ford Motor Co. Vice President Delmar S. Harder, from automatic + -tion. Earlier (1838) was automatism, which meant "quality of being automatic" in the classical sense.
Automatic, as opposed to human, operation or control of a process, equipment or a system; or the techniques and equipment used to achieve this. Most often applied to computer (or at least electronic) control of a manufacturing process. See also design automation, office automation, manularity, Manufacturing Automation Protocol, PEARL, QBE. (1994-10-21)