Tabulating Machine Company Card Punch

Tabulating Machine Company Card Punch

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From the early 20th century into the 1970s, Americans used punched cards to enter data onto tabulating equipment and then electronic computers. This early key-operated punch is 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 releases the card guide. Nine 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: 17849. Two rods are marked at the front below the punching position: 234.
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 U.S. 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.
Currently not on view
Object Name
card punch
date made
ca 1902
Tabulating Machine Company
Tabulating Machine Company
place distributed
United States: New York, New York City
Physical Description
rubber (overall material)
iron (overall material)
steel (overall material)
overall: 10.6 cm x 43.3 cm x 13 cm; 4 3/16 in x 17 1/16 in x 5 1/8 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of the Estate of Herman Hollerith, Jr.
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Tabulating Equipment
Computers & Business Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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