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
- In the 1880s American engineer Herman Hollerith devised a system to compile statistical information by entering data on individuals onto punched cards, allowing holes in the cards to admit wires and complete electrical circuits, and using electric counters to accumulate totals.
- Hollerith devised this kind of punch, which he called a gang punch, to punch data that was common to several cards. For data on a census, this might be the enumeration district. For payroll applications, it would be the date of payday.
- In 1904 a British firm organized to lease Hollerith machines in Britain and much of the rest of the wold. A subcontractor manufactured punch cards. From the 1920s. the British Tabulating Machine Company manufactured punch card equipment itself. This gang punch is one of its products.
- This punch has a 12x10 array of holes.The rows of holes are labeled Y, X, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. Six metal cylinders fit into the holes for punching, with a manually operated press to push them down. Cards are fed and removed by hand, from right to left. On the left is a metal plate with zigzag rows of holes on its top front and top back edge. These may be used to indicate the position of the card before punching.
- A tag on the right side of the punch under the card bed reads: THE (/) BRITISH TABULATING MACHINE Co (/) VICTORIA HOUSE, SOUTHHAMPTON ROW, LONDON, W.C.1 (/) GREAT BRITAIN AND U. S. A. - BRITISH BUILT. A stamp on the press reads: 5390.
- M. Campbell-Kelly, ICL: A Business and Technical History, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989.
- H. Hollerith, "Quick Setting Press," U. S. Patent 1,193,390, August 1, 1916. The machine shown in this patent has levers for setting the pins. This is not true with this object.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- British Tabulating Machine Company
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- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History