Tabulating Equipment
Other Tabulating Equipment

A collection of tabulating machines in the collections of mathematics, Division of Medicine and Science, National Museum of American History

Beginning in 1895 insurance executive John K. Gore developed punched card methods for compiling statistics relating to insurance. His sorters were successfully used by his employer, the Prudential Insurance Company, but never sold generally. From 1906 the mechanical engineer John Royden Peirce designed a variety of machines for sorting and tabulating data entered on punched cards. He obtained a few customers, but had difficulty meeting his contracts. Peirce’s company failed, but in 1922 his patents were purchased by IBM and he joined that company.

The success of punched card equipment, particularly that of IBM, and the high cost of electronic computers in the 1950s and 1960s encouraged some firms to manufacture competing products. Those of Universal Business Machines and Wright Line closely followed IBM models. The Termatrex system, introduced in the late 1960s to sort data for relatively small projects, had a much lower price.