Punch Card Used at the Southern Railway Company


Herman Hollerith began manufacturing tabulating machines to compile statistics to the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The nation only compiles a census every ten years, so Hollerith sought business from foreign governments and from commercial customers.

As early as 1895, the New York Central began using tabulating equipment to track goods moved by the railroad. Hollerith radically redesigned the punch card, putting information in columns with the numbers from 0 to 9. Several columns of numbers comprised a field, which contained information on a single matter. By 1907, the Central was an established customer and other railroads adopted machine accounting. The Southern Railway Company used this 45-column card. It has fields for the date, the receiving station, the waybill number, the code, the forwarding station, the junction point, "Com.", "C.L.", freight, charges, and prepaid amounts.


G. D. Austrian, Herman Hollerith: Forgotten Pioneer of Information Processing, New York: Columbia University Press, 1982, pp. 111–141, 250–251.

Date Made: ca 19101910, roughly1910 roughly

Maker: Tabulating Machine Company

Location: Currently not on view

Web Subject: MathematicsSubject: Railroads


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Mathematics, Computers & Business Machines, Tabulating Equipment, Punch Cards


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Virginia Hollerith and Lucia Hollerith

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: MA.317982.01Accession Number: 317982Catalog Number: 317982.01

Object Name: punch card

Physical Description: paper (overall material)Measurements: overall: .1 cm x 19 cm x 8.3 cm; 1/32 in x 7 15/32 in x 3 9/32 in

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a5-38f2-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_694415

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