Hollerith Tabulating Machine

During the 1880s the engineer Herman Hollerith devised a set of machines for compiling data from the United States Census. Hollerith's tabulating system included a punch for entering data about each person onto a blank card, a tabulator for reading the cards and summing up information, and a sorting box for sorting the cards for further analysis. The tabulator is shown at the center in the photograph.
Hollerith's tabulating system won a gold medal at the 1889 World's Fair in Paris, and was used successfully the next year to count the results of the 1890 Census. His inventions formed the starting point of a company that would become IBM.
Currently not on view
Object Name
tabulating machine
date made
ca 1890
Hollerith, Herman
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
glass (overall material)
oak (overall material)
overall: 55 in x 39 1/2 in x 32 in; 139.7 cm x 100.33 cm x 81.28 cm
place made
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Census, US
Computers & Business Machines
Tabulating Equipment
United States Census, 1890
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Tabulating Equipment
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of International Business Machines Corporation
Additional Media

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