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.
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