Herman Hollerith

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  • Topic: Punched card, Herman Hollerith, Unit record equipment
  • Pages : 2 (404 words )
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  • Published : March 9, 2006
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In 1801, Joseph-Marie Jacquard developed a loom in which the pattern being woven was controlled by punched cards. The series of cards could be changed without changing the mechanical design of the loom. This was a landmark point in programmability.

Herman Hollerith invented a tabulating machine using punch cards in the 1880s. In 1833, Charles Babbage moved on from developing his difference engine to developing a more complete design, the analytical engine which would draw directly on Jacquard's punch cards for its programming. In 1890 the United States Census Bureau used punch cards and sorting machines designed by Herman Hollerith to handle the flood of data from the decennial census mandated by the Constitution. Hollerith's company eventually became the core of IBM. IBM developed punch card technology into a powerful tool for business data processing and produced an extensive line of specialized unit record equipment. By 1950 the IBM card had become ubiquitous in industry and government. The warning printed on most cards, "Do not fold, spindle or mutilate," became a motto for the post-World War II era. Leslie Comrie's articles on punch card methods and W.J. Eckert's publication of Punched Card Methods in Scientific Computation in 1940, described techniques which were sufficiently advanced to solve differential equations, perform multiplication and division using floating point representations, all on punched cards and plug-boards similar to those used by telephone operators. The Thomas J. Watson Astronomical Computing Bureau, Columbia University performed astronomical calculations representing the state of the art in computing. In many computer installations, punched cards were used until (and after) the end of the 1970s. For example, science and engineering students at many universities around the world would submit their programming assignments to the local computer centre in the form of a stack of cards, one card per program line, and then had to wait for...
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