Hollerith Punch Card Technology

Hollerith punch card technology was invented by Herman Hollerith. He is recognized as the father of modern automatic computations. He invented the first key punch, as well as the first punched-card tabulating and sorting machines.

  1. Invention

    • Herman Hollerith developed his punch card machine for use in the 1890 census. The 1890 version was only capable of counting; later models were capable of addition. This added ability made them useful in accounting and other jobs.

    Hollerith Punch Cards

    • The modern standard punch card was developed in 1928; this corner-cut 80-column card is known as an IBM card. The top two rows are unlabeled and used for alphanumeric code. This code was standardized by IBM in 1931 and consisted of 40 characters. Over time, this code expanded to include a total of 256 characters.

    The Hollerith Machine

    • Punch-card tabulating machines were the first data processing machines; they read, sorted and tabulated the information on the cards. The beginnings of the ability to program these machines came in 1906, due to developments in the wiring panel of the Type 1 Tabulator that enabled the machine to do different tasks without being rebuilt. The discoveries made with punch-card technology led to more intricate processing problems and solutions, which developed into the computers we use today.

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