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The Tabulator: 1917

The Tabulator: 1917

1917. "Census Bureau, Department of Commerce, tabulating machine." An early punch-card tabulator, a distant forebear of today's computers. Two photos of this monster yet to come. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Strictly speaking Hollerith didn't found IBM. He started the Tabulating Machine Company, which merged with three other companies to be named the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation. Thomas J. Watson became the President of CTR in 1924 and renamed it the International Business Machine Company.

Quite the server rack

They don't make 'em like that anymore. Look at the latch at the bottom of the door. Could hold up as an Apollo airlock. Looks like the machine had given a few years' hard service, from the wear around the base.

My first programming experience was Fortran on cards. In the LA high school, they didn't give out cardpunch machines, so you had to mark the cards with a #2 pencil like an SAT test. Encouraged tight code, it did.

Herman Hollerith

Hollerith did not found IBM, T.J. Watson did. When Watson asked Hollerith to help improve the punch card machines, Hollerith said the machines were already perfect and could not be improved.

The vault?

Those round pegs along the side of the "door" look like ones you'd see on a vault. Would something like this have been locked in that manner? Or are those "pegs" in fact rollers.

Herman Hollerith

Besides the card tabulator, Herman Hollerith invented the keypunch machine and other card-handling devices to provide a complete tabulating system. His efforts saved $5 million in conducting the 1890 Census, back when that was a lot of money, and earned him a PhD from Columbia University.

His next little accomplishment was founding IBM!

Linux already booting

We've brought up the Linux kernel on this machine, but many of the usual device drivers are proving to be a challenge. For further information -- and especially assistance from Linux driver engineers experienced with the peripherals of the era -- please visit:

[I wonder if it needs a bigger cooling fan. - Dave]

Hollerith Cards

Punch cards (more accurately, Hollerith cards) were the same size as the greenbacks of the day, so they could use the same tray feeders and storage bins. There's also a direct relationship between the size of legal paper and 3.5" mini-floppy diskettes.


DOS,The early years.

Herman Hollerith

This technology was originated by Herman Hollerith, in time for the Census of 1890, and is considered the foundation for early computer input systems.

Two months ago Herman's grandson was elected to be the new presiding bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia; he came out of Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, which itself is Shorpy-worthy. For those who've been, Bruton Parish is the large church in Colonial Williamsburg.

Now, how to save this to show "before and after" shots of our lab's cleanup at work....

[Speaking of Bruton Parish Church, my step-grandfather is buried there. - Dave]

It's the new iTab

The next model had a clear "celluloid" case!

"I Bring You Peace"

Is this what the remake of "Colossus: The Forbin Project" will look like? Or is that the new Mac Pro?

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