Our museum is temporarily closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Read a message from our director, and check our website and social media for updates.

Framed Photograph of Apparatus of Herman Hollerith

Framed Photograph of Apparatus of Herman Hollerith

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
This framed and matted photograph shows a laboratory bench. On it is a rolling metal platform, with wheels, that moves along a track. A weight at one end and screw underneath apparently control the motion of the carriage. A mechanism on the right probably controls the motion of the screw. A metal bar attached to the front of the bench carries two movable microscopes. Over and behind the carriage are two metal bars, both of which appear to have rows of evenly spaced metal plugs along the edges. A stylus is above the carriage.
Further apparatus is mounted on the wall on the left. Also on the wall are two photographs, one of a telescope and one of the pier of a telescope.These may be photographs of the 36-inch refractor at Lick Observatory in California. A third photograph shows unidentified apparatus, which may be a tabulating machine. Several light bulbs in the photograph apparently date roughly from 1880 to 1900.
A faint mark at the center of the photograph has been interpreted to read: Geo M Bond. A mark in pencil on the backing of the photograph (now loose from the object) reads: Tab Mach Co.
In the 1880s the mechanical engineer George M. Bond designed a comparator for William M. Rogers of the Harvard College Observatory to use in comparing standards of length. The Tabulating Machine Company was formed by Herman Hollerith in 1896 and merged to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in 1911. Hence the rough date of 1900 assigned to the image.
Leon E. Truesdell, The Development of Punch Card Tabulation in the Bureau of the Census 1890–1940, Washington: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1965, pp. 43–44.
Object Name
date made
ca 1900
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
glass (overall material)
paper (overall material)
overall: 1.5 cm x 33.6 cm x 28.7 cm; 19/32 in x 13 7/32 in x 11 5/16 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Virginia Hollerith and Lucia Hollerith
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Tabulating Equipment
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object