by Gerald Boerner
A little over a hundred years ago, the concept of storing information on punched cards, running those cards through a machine for counting, and coming up with counts that could be tallied into subcategories as well as overall was beyond most. Then, into this historical void, stepped a man of destiny — Herman Hollerith.
Hollerith proposed a solution to the Census Bureau for tabulating the 1890 census data in one year. So what, you might ask? Well, it was only in 1888 before the tabulation of the 1880 census data was complete. Since the population had increased, the 1890 census created an almost insurmountable problem for the census office!
But Hollerith adapted the programming card concept used on Jacquard’s loom, a paper punch, and a device that could tally holes in these cards. Hollerith’s machine was created. The census data was punched and tallied well within the time period allocated. The machine was a success.
Based upon this machine came a company that is almost synonymous with computing — IBM. From the punched card to the microchip, our society had grown dependent upon these electronic gadgets that evolved from the Hollerith machines of the 1890s. GLB
“Even IBM can’t stand in the way of progress… for more than a decade.”
— Craig Bruce
“Every time we’ve moved ahead in IBM, it was because someone was willing to take a chance, put his head on the block, and try something new.”
— Thomas J. Watson
“I think the way IBM has embraced the open source philosophy has been quite astonishing, but gratifying. I hope they’ll do very well with it.”
— Larry Wall