Herman Hollerith (, – , ) was an who developed a mechanical system based on to rapidly tabulate statistics from thousands and millions of data.
He was born on February 29, 1860 in Buffalo, New York to Johann George Hollerith (1808-1869); and Franciska Brunn, both of . He graduated from , 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 . 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.
Electronic tabulation of statistical data
Hollerith spent 1882 on the Mechanical Engineering faculty at . 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 , 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 , 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 . 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 ) allowing a skilled operator to punch 200-300 cards per hour, and a wiring panel in his Type I Tabulator allowing it to do different jobs without having to be rebuilt (the first step towards programming). The 1890 Tabulator was 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 it was renamed in .
Hollerith's patents from 1889:
This article was originally based on material from the , which is under the .
1860 Birth of Herman Hollerith
1880 in Manhattan
1890 US Census compiled with his tabulating machine
1929 Death of Herman Hollerith
The punched card predates considerably. As early as used perforated paper loop in a loom to establish the pattern to be reproduced on cloth, and in his co-worker 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. used punched cards in as a control device for the more automatic , which met with great success.
, 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 in .