Tabulating EquipmentThe Bureau of the Census to Remington Rand
In 1902 the Census Office became a permanent U.S. government agency, the Bureau of the Census. Simon N. D. North, the Director of the Bureau from 1903, believed that renting tabulating machines from Hollerith’s Tabulating Machine Company was too expensive. North established a machine shop staffed by engineers and mechanics to develop alternate systems. These machines were used in the census of population in 1910, 1920, and 1930. Tabulating equipment from the later period survives at NMAH.
James Powers, one of the first inventors hired by North, left to establish his own business in 1911. Although no machines of the Powers Accounting Machine Company survive in the Smithsonian collections, parts from them are represented. The company went bankrupt in 1920, but development of mechanical card punch equipment along the lines Powers envisioned continued. Remington Rand acquired Powers when it formed in 1927, and made punched card accounting machines into the 1950s. These were used not only in business and government but by organizations such as labor unions.
"Tabulating Equipment - The Bureau of the Census to Remington Rand" showing 1 items.
- The wooden base of this model holds a metal container with a paper punch card that fits in it. A metal piece swings from a crosspiece above the card. The base also holds supports for another metal crosspiece. Three metal pieces rotate with this crosspiece. The base also holds two larger, facing metal rectangles. One rectangle has a plastic piece screwed to the top.
- A mark on the right side of the punch card reads: POWERS ACCOUNTING MACHINE COMPANY (/) ACCOUNTS PAYABLE. A mark on the left side of the punch card reads: P1384. The punched holes are round.
- A piece of paper pasted to the top of the base reads: This model represents my new (/) invention of a tabulator in connec- (/) tion with perforated cards, elimina- (/) ting a pin box of 540 pins and sub- (/) stitution forty-five levers instead. (/) Also eliminating connection box, with (/) both of these improvements the speed (/) will be doubled and such machine will (/) be small in size, cheaper to build, (/) more flexible and easier to manipulate. (/) August 19, 1924 (/) James Powers. Also signing the document were Fred J. Dole, Charles E. Whiteman and Achilles Rovegno, all of whom had associations with Francis H. Richards of New York, Powers’s patent attorney.
- No patent corresponding to this invention has been found.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- James Powers
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center