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.
- This framed and matted photograph shows a laboratory bench. On it is a rolling metal platform, with wheels, that moves along a track. A weight at one end and screw underneath apparently control the motion of the carriage. A mechanism on the right probably controls the motion of the screw. A metal bar attached to the front of the bench carries two movable microscopes. Over and behind the carriage are two metal bars, both of which appear to have rows of evenly spaced metal plugs along the edges. A stylus is above the carriage.
- Further apparatus is mounted on the wall on the left. Also on the wall are two photographs, one of a telescope and one of the pier of a telescope.These may be photographs of the 36-inch refractor at Lick Observatory in California. A third photograph shows unidentified apparatus, which may be a tabulating machine. Several light bulbs in the photograph apparently date roughly from 1880 to 1900.
- A faint mark at the center of the photograph has been interpreted to read: Geo M Bond. A mark in pencil on the backing of the photograph (now loose from the object) reads: Tab Mach Co.
- In the 1880s the mechanical engineer George M. Bond designed a comparator for William M. Rogers of the Harvard College Observatory to use in comparing standards of length. The Tabulating Machine Company was formed by Herman Hollerith in 1896 and merged to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in 1911. Hence the rough date of 1900 assigned to the image.
- Leon E. Truesdell, The Development of Punch Card Tabulation in the Bureau of the Census 1890–1940, Washington: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1965, pp. 43–44.
- date made
- ca 1900
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center