Herman Hollerith lodges patent for Punch Card technology
8th January 1889
Between the 1880 and 1890 censuses, Hollerith spent a year (1882) on the Mechanical Engineering faculty at MIT, and then in the mid-1880s worked on railroad braking systems, obtaining several patents for both electromagnetic pneumatic brakes and vacuum operated brakes, as well as for corrugated metal tubing.
Hollerith's ideas for automation of the census are expressed succinctly in Patent No. 395,782 of Jan. 8, 1889: "The herein described method of compiling statistics which consists in recording separate statistical items pertaining to the individual by holes or combinations of holed punched in sheets of electrically non-conducting material, and bearing a specific relation to each other and to a standard, and then counting or tallying such statistical items separately or in combination by means of mechanical counters operated by electro-magnets the circuits through which are controlled by the perforated sheets, substantially as and for the purpose set forth."
Hollerith's contributions to modern computing are... "incalculable" :-) He did not stop at his original 1890 tabulating machine and sorter, but produced many other innovative new models. He also invented the first automatic card-feed mechanism, the first key punch, and took what was perhaps the first step towards programming by introducing a wiring panel in his 1906 Type I Tabulator, allowing it to do different jobs without having to be rebuilt! (The 1890 Tabulator was hardwired to operate only on 1890 Census cards.) These inventions were the foundation of the modern information processing industry
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