Computers & Business Machines
Imagine the loss, 100 years from now, if museums hadn't begun preserving the artifacts of the computer age. The last few decades offer proof positive of why museums must collect continuously—to document technological and social transformations already underway.
The museum's collections contain mainframes, minicomputers, microcomputers, and handheld devices. Computers range from the pioneering ENIAC to microcomputers like the Altair and the Apple I. A Cray2 supercomputer is part of the collections, along with one of the towers of IBM's Deep Blue, the computer that defeated reigning champion Garry Kasparov in a chess match in 1997. Computer components and peripherals, games, software, manuals, and other documents are part of the collections. Some of the instruments of business include adding machines, calculators, typewriters, dictating machines, fax machines, cash registers, and photocopiers
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.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- ca 1910
- 1910, roughly
- 1910 roughly
- Tabulating Machine Company
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History
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