Tabulating EquipmentFrom Herman Hollerith to IBM
Herman Hollerith did undergraduate work at the School of Mines of Columbia University in New York. In 1879 he began work the U.S. Census Office, and soon was appointed a special agent charged with collecting statistics on the power and machinery used in manufactures. Hollerith quickly became intrigued by the problem of compiling Census statistics. By 1887 he had devised a tabulating system that included cards, a special punch for making holes in them at select locations to represent Census data, a tabulator that counted data on the cards, and a sorter that eased the task of sorting the cards for reuse. The system was tested in computing mortality statistics for the city of Baltimore. This proved sufficiently successful that Hollerith machines were selected to compile the data accumulated in the 1890 U.S. Census of population.
Hollerith’s system found use not only in the United States but in Britain, France, and Russia. By 1907 he had modified it to accommodate demands of business accounting. The new tabulating systems incorporated an adding machine; used punched cards with columns; had an improved card reader and a key-driven card punch; and offered a mechanical sorter. In 1911 Hollerith’s Tabulating Machine Company merged with two other firms to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, soon renamed IBM. Related companies emerged in France, Germany, and Great Britain. From 1914 Thomas J. Watson headed the firm, cultivating ties to American science, government, and business. IBM constructed one of the first relay computers, used at Harvard University during World War II. It went on to dominate the business of making and selling mainframe electronic computers.
"Tabulating Equipment - From Herman Hollerith to IBM" showing 1 items.
- By the late 1940s, the calculations and printout of IBM accounting machines were determined by setting a plugboard like this one and then feeding in data punched on cards. This control panel was used specifically in an IBM 403 tabulating machine, a device introduced in the late 1940s and distributed at least into the late 1960s.
- The object has a rectangular metal frame with a metal handle on one of the long edges. It is divided into three sections, each containing a plastic circuit board with numerous holes. Many colorful plastic and cloth-coated wires are plugged into the holes. The board is wired for calculating invoices.
- A red tag attached under the handle reads: 403 INVOICE. A tag glued under the panel reads: MFG. BY (/) MAC PANEL (/) COMPANY. This tag also reads: HIGH POINT (/) N. C. and: TYPE 913. A mark stamped at the bottom of one circuit board reads: TYPE 402-403 22573 PRINTED IN USA.
- According to the company website, MAC Panel Company was founded in High Point in 1958.
- This example came from a programmer who worked with punch card equipment and computers from 1940 until 1985.
- IBM, IBM 402, 403 and 419 Accounting Machine Manual of Operation, New York: IBM, 1953, pp. 4–7. This is 2006.3088.03.20.
- Accession file.
- M. Campbell-Kelly, ICL: A Business and Technical HistoryOxford: Clarendon Press, 1989, pp. 90–92.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- ca 1960
- International Business Machines Corporation
- MAC Panel Company
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center