Tabulating Machine Company Card Punch


From the early 20th century into the 1970s, Americans used punched cards to enter data into tabulating equipment and then electronic computers. This is an early key-operated punch, based on patents of the inventor Herman Hollerith.

The machine has a shaped iron base, painted black, that includes a grooved plate for cards, a mechanism at the back for advancing cards being punched, a single row of punches, and a group of 12 keys for punching round holes with these punches. Another key at the back that releases the card guide. Three of the thirteen rubber key tops are missing.

A metal label on the front of the machine reads: THE TABULATING MACHINE CO (/) NEW YORK CITY (/) PATENTED (/) JUNE 18, 1901. SEPT. 10. 1901. A mark at the left front edge of the card bed reads: 17262. Two rods are marked at the front below the punching position: 392.

The Tabulating Machine Company was formed by Hollerith in 1896 and merged to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in 1911. This firm became International Business Machines Corporation. The key punch was introduced in the United States in 1901 and remained in essentially the same form for over half a century.

Compare MA.335634 and MA.334635.


G. D. Austrian, Herman Hollerith: Forgotten Pioneer of Information Processing, New York: Columbia University Press, 1982, pp. 174–175.

Date Made: ca 1902

Distributor: Tabulating Machine CompanyMaker: Tabulating Machine Company

Location: Currently not on view

Place Distributed: United States: New York, New York City

Web Subject: Mathematics


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


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of the Estate of Herman Hollerith, Jr.

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: MA.335635Accession Number: 1977.0114Catalog Number: 335635

Object Name: card punch

Physical Description: rubber (overall material)iron (overall material)steel (overall material)Measurements: overall: 10.9 cm x 43.5 cm x 14 cm; 4 9/32 in x 17 1/8 in x 5 1/2 in


Record Id: nmah_694429

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