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Herman Hollerith


Herman Hollerith ( HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_29» \o «February 29» February 29
, HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1860» \o «1860» 1860 –
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/November_17» \o «November 17»
November 17 , HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1929» \o «1929»
1929 ) was an HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States»
\o «United States» American HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistics» \o «Statistics» statistician
who developed a mechanical system based on HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punched_card» \o «Punched card» punched
cards to rapidly tabulate statistics from thousands and millions of

Personal Life

He was born on February 29, 1860 in Buffalo, New York to Johann George
Hollerith (1808-1869); and Franciska Brunn, both of HYPERLINK
dit» \o «Rheinfalz, Germany» Rheinfalz, Germany . He graduated from
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_College_of_New_York» \o
«City College of New York» City College of New York , with a bachelor’s
degree in 1879. In 1880 he listed himself as a mining engineer while
living in Manhattan, and he completed his Ph.D. in 1890 at the
ion=edit» \o «Columbia College of Mines» Columbia College of Mines . In
1890 he married Lucia Beverley Talcott (1865-?) of Vera Cruz, Mexico and
they had six children. He died in 1929 of a heart attack and was buried
in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown, Virginia.

section=2» \o «Herman Hollerith» edit ]

Electronic tabulation of statistical data

Hollerith spent 1882 on the Mechanical Engineering faculty at
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIT» \o «MIT» MIT . During that
year he developed a prototype of a system for storing data on punched
cards which was partly inspired by the system used by railroad
conductors in which holes punched in various places on a passenger’s
ticket identified the holder’s passenger status. Urged on by HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Shaw_Billings» \o «John Shaw
Billings» John Shaw Billings , he developed a mechanism for reading the
presence or absence of holes in the cards using spring-mounted needles
that passed through the holes to make electrical connections to trigger
a counter to record one more of each value. The key idea (due to
Billings) was that all personal data could be coded numerically.
Hollerith saw that the numbers could be punched in specified column on
the cards, the cards sorted mechanically, and the appropriate columns
totalled. He described his idea in Patent No. 395,782 of January 8, 1889
as follows:

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.

Tabulating Machine Company

He built machines under contract for the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Census_Bureau» \o «United
States Census Bureau» US Census Bureau , which used them to tabulate
the 1890 census in much less time than the 1880 census. He started his
own business in 1896 when he founded HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabulating_Machine_Company» \o «Tabulating
Machine Company» Tabulating Machine Company . Most of the major census
bureaus around the world leased his equipment and purchased his cards,
as did major insurance companies. To make his system work he invented
the first automatic card-feed mechanism, the first key punch (i.e. punch
that was operated from a HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyboard_technology» \o «Keyboard
technology» keyboard ) allowing a skilled operator to punch 200-300
cards per hour, and a wiring panel in his HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1906» \o «1906» 1906 Type I Tabulator
allowing it to do different jobs without having to be rebuilt (the first
step towards programming). The 1890 Tabulator was HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardwired» \o «Hardwired» hardwired to
operate only on 1890 Census cards. These inventions were the foundation
of the modern information processing industry.

International Business Machines

In 1911 his firm merged with two others to form the Computing Tabulating
Recording (CTR) Corporation. Under the presidency of HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_J._Watson» \o «Thomas J. Watson»
Thomas J. Watson it was renamed HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Business_Machines» \o
«International Business Machines» IBM in HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1924» \o «1924» 1924 .

External links

Hollerith’s patents from 1889: HYPERLINK
«http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=395781» \o
«http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=395781» U.S.
Patent 395781 HYPERLINK
«http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=395782» \o
«http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=395782» U.S.
Patent 395782 HYPERLINK
«http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=395783» \o
«http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=395783» U.S.
Patent 395783

HYPERLINK «http://www.columbia.edu/acis/history/hollerith.html» \o
«http://www.columbia.edu/acis/history/hollerith.html» More on Hollerith
and his original tabulator

HYPERLINK «http://museum.nist.gov/panels/conveyor/hollerithbio.htm» \o
«http://museum.nist.gov/panels/conveyor/hollerithbio.htm» Hollerith
page at the National Hall of Fame

This article was originally based on material from the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_On-line_Dictionary_of_Computing» \o
«Free On-line Dictionary of Computing» Free On-line Dictionary of
Computing , which is HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Foldoc_license» \o
«Wikipedia:Foldoc license» licensed under the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Free_Documentation_License» \o «GNU
Free Documentation License» GFDL .


1860 Birth of Herman Hollerith

» \o «1880 census Hollerith.gif» US Census in Manhattan

1890 US Census compiled with his tabulating machine

1929 Death of Herman Hollerith

The punched card predates HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer» \o «Computer» computers
considerably. As early as HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1725» \o «1725» 1725 HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basile_Bouchon» \o «Basile Bouchon»
Basile Bouchon used perforated paper loop in a loom to establish the
pattern to be reproduced on cloth, and in HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1726» \o «1726» 1726 his co-worker
dit» \o «Jean-Baptiste Falcon» Jean-Baptiste Falcon improved on his
design by using perforated paper cards attached to one another, which
made it easier to change the program quickly. The Bouchon-Falcon loom
was semi-automatic and required manual feed of the program. HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Jacquard» \o «Joseph Jacquard»
Joseph Jacquard used punched cards in HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1801» \o «1801» 1801 as a control device
for the more automatic HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacquard_loom» \o «Jacquard loom»
Jacquard looms , which met with great success.

HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Babbage» \o «Charles
Babbage» Charles Babbage , who originated the idea of a programmable
computer, adopted Jacquard’s system of punched cards to control the
sequence of computations in the design for his HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analytical_engine» \o «Analytical engine»
analytical engine in HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1837» \o
«1837» 1837 HYPERLINK
«http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/cards/history.html» \o
«http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/cards/history.html» [1] . Such cards
were used as an input method for the primitive calculating machines of
the late HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/19th_century» \o
«19th century» 19th century . The version by HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Hollerith» \o «Herman Hollerith»
Herman Hollerith , patented on HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/June_8» \o «June 8» June 8 , HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1887» \o «1887» 1887 and used with
mechanical tabulating machines in the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1890» \o «1890» 1890 HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Census_Bureau» \o «United
States Census Bureau» U.S. Census , was a piece of cardboard about
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1_E-2_m» \o «1 E-2 m» 90
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millimetre» \o «Millimetre» mm
by 215 mm, with round holes. This was the same size as the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dollar_bill» \o «Dollar bill» dollar bill
of the time, so that storage cabinets designed for money could be used
for his cards. The early applications of punched cards all used
specifically-designed card layouts. It wasn’t until around 1928 that
punched cards and machines were made «general purpose». In that year,
punched cards were made a standard size, exactly 7-3/8 HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inch» \o «Inch» inch by 3-1/4 inch
(187.325 by 82.55 HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millimetre»
\o «Millimetre» mm ), reportedly corresponding to the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large-sized_note» \o «Large-sized note»
US currency of the day , though some sources characterise this assertion
as HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_legend» \o «Urban
legend» urban legend .

To compensate for the cyclical nature of the Census Bureau’s demand for
his machines, Hollerith founded the Tabulating Machine Company (
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1896» \o «1896» 1896 ) which
was one of three companies that merged to form HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Business_Machines» \o
«International Business Machines» IBM in HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1911» \o «1911» 1911 .

The IBM 80-column punching format, with rectangular holes, eventually
won out over the HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNIVAC» \o
«UNIVAC» UNIVAC 90-character format, which used 45 columns (2
characters in each) of 12 round holes. IBM (Hollerith) punched cards are
made of smooth stock, .007 of an inch thick. There are about 143 cards
to the inch thickness; a group of such cards is called a deck. Punch
cards were widely known as just IBM cards.

Functional details

A reproducing punch, like this one from IBM, could make exact copies of
a deck of cards.

The method is quite simple: On a piece of light-weight cardboard,
successive positions either have a hole punched through them or are left
intact. The rectangular bits of paper punched out are called HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chad_%28computer%29» \o «Chad (computer)»
chads . Thus, each punch location on the card represents a single
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_numeral_system» \o
«Binary numeral system» binary digit (or » HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bit» \o «Bit» bit «). Each column on the
card contained several punch positions (multiple bits).

IBM punch card format

The IBM card format, which became standard, held 80 columns of 12 punch
locations each, representing 80 characters. Originally only numeric
information was coded with 1 or 2 punchs per column: digits (digit[0-9])
and signs (zone[12,11] – sometimes overpunching the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LSD_%28disambiguation%29» \o «LSD
(disambiguation)» Least Significant Digit ). Later, codes were
introduced for upper-case letters and special characters. A column with
2 punches (zone[12,11,0] + digit[1-9]) was a letter; 3 punches
(zone[12,11,0] + digit[2-4] + 8) was a special character. The
introduction of HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EBCDIC» \o
«EBCDIC» EBCDIC in HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1964» \o
«1964» 1964 allowed columns with as many as 6 punches
(zones[12,11,0,8,9] + digit[1-7]). The punch cards were 7 and 3/8 inches
long by 3 and 1/4 inches high and were 0.007 inch thick with one of the
upper corners cut at an angle.

Corner cut

A major reason for the corner cut was so the punch card could not be
inserted backwards or upside down. If the punch card was inserted
backwards or upside down it hit a small plastic pin in the machine
called the corner cut pin. This would engage a micro switch and halt the
machine operation until the card was inserted properly with the corner
cut on the correct side of the punch card as used in that system.
Stopping the machine meant the machine would not continue to sort or

Many computer installations used cards with the opposite corner cut
(sometimes no corner cut) as «job separators», so that an operator could
stack several job decks in the card reader at the same time and be able
to quickly separate the decks manually when he removed them from the
stacker. These cards were prepunched (e.g., a HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JCL» \o «JCL» JCL command to start a new
job) in large quantities in advance. This was especially useful when the
main computer did not read the cards directly, but instead read their
images from HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_tape» \o
«Magnetic tape» magnetic tape that was prepared offline by HYPERLINK
=edit» \o «Card to tape converter» card to tape converters or smaller

Data was entered on a machine called a HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keypunch» \o «Keypunch» keypunch , which
was like a large, very noisy typewriter. Often the text was also printed
at the top of the card, allowing humans to read the text as well. This
was done using a machine called an interpreter. Later model keypunches
could do this as well. Multi-character data, such as words or large
numbers, was stored in adjacent card columns known as fields. For
applications in which accuracy was critical, the practice was to have
two different operators key the same data, with the second using a
card-verifier instead of a card-punch. Verified cards would be marked
with a rounded notch on the right end. Failed cards would be replaced by
a key punch operator. There was a great demand for key-punch operators,
usually women, who worked full-time on key punch and verifier machines.

Electromechanical equipment (called HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_record_equipment» \o «Unit record
equipment» unit record equipment ) for punching, sorting, tabulating
and printing the cards was manufactured. These machines allowed
sophisticated data processing tasks to be accomplished long before
computers were invented. The card readers used an electrical (metal
brush) or, later, optical sensor to detect which positions on the card
contained a hole. They had high-speed mechanical feeders to process
around one hundred cards per minute. All processing was done with
electromechanical counters and relays. The machines were programmed
using wire patch panels.

Other formats

A System 3 punch card.

Other HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code» \o «Code» coding
schemes, sizes of card, and hole shapes were tried at various times.
Mark sense cards had printed ovals that humans would fill in with a
pencil. Specialized card punches could detect these marks and punch the
corresponding information into the card. There were also HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Needle_cards&action=edit» \o
«Needle cards» needle cards with all the punch positions perforated so
data could be punched out manually, one hole at a time, with a device
like a blunt pin with its wire bent into a finger-ring on the other end.
In the early HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1970s» \o «1970s»
1970s , IBM introduced a new, smaller, round-hole, 96-column card
format along with the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_System_3» \o «IBM System 3″ IBM
System 3 computer.

Aperture cards are a specialized use of punch cards for storing »
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blueprint» \o «Blueprint»
blueprints «. A drawing is photographed onto HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/35_mm_film» \o «35 mm film» 35 mm film
and the image is mounted in a window on the right half of the punch
card. Information about the drawing, e.g. the drawing number, is punched
in the left half.

IBM punch cards could be used with early computers in a binary mode
where every column (or row) was treated as a simple bitfield, and every
combination of holes was permitted . In this binary mode, cards could be
made in which every possible punch position had a hole: these were
called » HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lace_card» \o «Lace
card» lace cards .» For example, the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_700/7000_series» \l
«Scientific_Architecture_.28704.2F709.2F7090.2F7094.29» \o «IBM 700/7000
series» IBM 700/7000 series scientific computers treated every row as
two 36-bit words, usually in columns 1-72, ignoring the last 8 columns
(but this was programable using a plugboard in the card reader and punch
to select the 72 columns used). Other computers, like the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_1130» \o «IBM 1130» IBM 1130 , used
every possible hole.


In its earliest uses, the punch card was not just a data recording
medium, but a controlling element of the data processing operation.
Electrical pulses produced when the read brushes passed through holes
punched in the cards directly triggered electro-mechanical counters,
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relay» \o «Relay» relays , and
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solenoid» \o «Solenoid»
solenoids . Cards were inexpensive and provided a permanent record of
each transaction. Large organizations had warehouses filled with punch
card records.

One reason punch cards persisted into the early computer age was that an
expensive computer was not required to encode information onto the
cards. When the time came to transfer punch card information into the
computer, the process could occur at very high speed, either by the
computer itself or by a separate, smaller computer (e.g. an HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_1401» \o «IBM 1401» IBM 1401 ) that
read the cards and wrote the data onto magnetic tapes or, later, on
removable hard disks, that could then be mounted on the larger computer,
thus making best use of expensive HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mainframe» \o «Mainframe» mainframe
computer time.


Punched-card systems fell out of favor in the mid to late 1970s, as
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disk_drive» \o «Disk drive»
disk storage became cost effective, and affordable HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_terminal» \o «Computer terminal»
interactive terminals meant that users could edit their work with the
computer directly rather than requiring the intermediate step of the
punched cards.

However, their influence lives on through many standard conventions and
file formats. The terminals that replaced the punched cards displayed 80
columns of text, for compatibility with existing software. Many programs
still operate on the convention of 80 text columns, although strict
adherence to that is fading as newer systems employ HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphical_user_interface» \o «Graphical
user interface» graphical user interfaces with variable-width type

Dimpled and hanging chads

The term for the punched card area which is removed during a punch is
chad. One notorious problem with a punched card system of tabulation is
the incomplete punch; this can lead to a smaller hole than expected, or
to a mere slit on the card, or to a mere dimple on the card. Thus a chad
which is still attached to the card is a HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanging_chad» \o «Hanging chad» hanging
chad . This technical problem was claimed by the Democratic Party to
have influenced the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000_U.S._presidential_election» \o «2000
U.S. presidential election» 2000 U.S. presidential election in the
state of HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida» \o «Florida»
Florida ; critics claimed that HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_machine» \o «Voting machine»
voting machines which used punched cards to tabulate votes generated
improperly rendered records of several hundred votes, spread out over an
entire state, which allegedly tipped the vote in favor of HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Bush» \o «George W. Bush»
George W. Bush over HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Gore»
\o «Al Gore» Al Gore .

Some consider it to be a minor scandal that punch card-based voting
machines have continued to be used over the next several years,
including the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_U.S._presidential_election» \o «2004
U.S. presidential election» 2004 U.S. presidential race . Others who
have used the system for years without the slightest problem cannot
understand how it could be such an issue.

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