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Issue No.04 - October-December (1997 vol.19)
pp: 28-41
ABSTRACT
<p><it>This paper addresses the initial development of the first punched card system in the United States in the 1880s and the construction of the next punched card machine generation, launched in 1907. Finally, aspects of punched card systems in the 1910s give a perspective on this history.</it></p>
CITATION
Lars Heide, "Shaping a Technology: American Punched Card Systems 1880-1914", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.19, no. 4, pp. 28-41, October-December 1997, doi:10.1109/85.627897
REFERENCES
1. This is based on the product cycles theory from business economics, see P. Kotler, Marketing Management.Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1988, pp. 346-366. The product cycles theory is applied to an analysis of the history of technology in P. Etwill,Teknologi og innovation i det landbrugsindustrielle kompleks 1900-1940, Copenhagen, 1993.
2. The description is based on: H. Hollerith, "Art of Compiling Statistics," U.S. Patent No. 395.781 (1889, filed 1887); "An Electric Tabulating System,"School of Mines Quarterly, pp. 246-255, 1889 (Hollerith's PhD dissertation); "The Census of the United States,"Scientific Amer., vol. 63, no. 9, p. 132, 30 Aug. 1890; R.P. Porter, "The Eleventh Census,"Amer. Statistical Assoc., new series, vol. 15, pp. 321-379, 1891; T.C. Martin, "Counting a Nation by Electricity,"Electrical Engineer, vol. 12, pp. 521-530, 1891; W.S. Holt,The Bureau of the Census: Its History, Activities and Organization. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1929, pp. 27-31; L.E. Truesdell,The Development of Punched Card Tabulation in the Bureau of the Census 1890-1940. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1965, pp. 43-45, 47; M.J. Anderson,The American Census. A Social History. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, 1988, pp. 106-109. Two general introductions to U.S. punched card history are: A.L. Norberg, "High-Technology Calculation in the Early 20th Century: Punched Card Machinery in Business and Government,"History and Technology, vol. 31, pp. 753-779, 1990; and J.W. Cortada,Before the Computer: IBM, NCR, Burroughs, and Remington Rand and the Industry They Created, 1865-1956. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1993.
3. Scientific Amer., vol. 36, no. 9, front page, Aug.30 1890.
4. C.D. Wright and W.C. Hunt, The History and Growth of the United States Census.Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1900, pp. 8-12.
5. Anderson, p. 242.
6. T.P. Hughes, "The Evolution of Large Technological Systems," The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology, W.E. Bijker, T.P. Hughes, and T.J. Pinch, eds. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1987, pp. 73-76.
7. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850.Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1853, pp. xlii-xliii; Report on the Population of the United States of the Eleventh Census, 1890. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, Part I, 1895, p. 451, Part II, 1897, pp. 2-5.
8. Wright and Hunt, pp. 31, 48, 74.
9. Holt, pp. 34-35.
10. The information might be condensed a little further (Truesdell, pp. 4-8), but this does not significantly affect the argumentation in this article.
11. Hollerith, "An Electric Tabulating System," pp. 244; C.F. Pidgin, Practical Statistics: A Handbook.Boston, Mass., 1888, pp. 147-154.
12. C.W. Seaton, "Improvement in Tabulating Devices," U.S. Patent, No. 127,435, 1872; Merriam, p. 836.
13. Truesdell, pp. 19-24 offers a sophisticated reconstruction, which would need a break in the line of thought of contemporary publications cited in this article. He does not state his arguments explicitly.
14. "Letter from the Secretary of the Interior in Relation to an Appropriation to C.W. Seaton," 42nd Congress, 2nd session. House Executive Documents, No. 164. Transmitted to the House on 28 Feb. 1872.
15. A number of Seaton devices might have been used simultaneously by the same clerk. J.S. Billings, "Methods of Tabulating and Publishing Records of Death," Amer. Public Health Assoc.: Public Health Papers and Reports, vol. 11, p. 55, 1886.
16. Wright and Hunt, p. 68.
17. Billings ibid., p. 55; J.S. Billings "Forms of Tables of Vital Statistics, with Special Reference to the Needs of the Health Department of a City," Amer. Public Health Assoc.: Public Health Papers and Reports, vol. 13, p. 205, 1887; J.S. Billings, "Mechanical Methods Used in Compiling Data of the 11th U.S. Census,"Proc. Amer. Association for the Advancement of Science, vol. 40, p. 407, 1891; H. Hollerith, "The Electrical Tabulating Machine," J. Royal Statistical Soc., vol. 32, p. 678, 1881; Truesdell, ibid., pp. 26-34.
18. J.S. Billings, "The Mortality Statistics of the Tenth Census," Trans. Amer. Medical Assoc., vol. 33, pp. 297-303, 1881.
19. J.S. Billings, "Medical Libraries in the United States," Special Report on Public Libraries in the United States.Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1876, p. 176.
20. Pidgin, Practical Statistics, pp. 28-61.
21. Hughes, p. 60.
22. Report of a Commission Appointed by the Honourable Superintendent of Census.Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1889. Reprint by H. Hollerith, IBM/CA/Box A-832-1, Hollerith, Census.
23. Letter from H. Hollerith to R.P. Porter, Mar.10 1889. Printed copy in LC/Hollerith Papers, box 34, fld.7; Pidgin, Practical Statistics, pp. 45-55; Truesdell, ibid., pp. 79-81.
24. Pidgin, Practical Statistics, pp. 151-153.
25. Anderson, p. 109.
26. G.D. Austrian, Herman Hollerith: Forgotten Giant of Information Processing, Columbia Univ. Press, New York, 1982, pp. 5-6.
27. J.K. Finch, A History of the School of Engineering.New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1954, pp. 36-37, 47-48. Hollerith attended Columbia College for only 3.5 years, from March 1876 to his graduation in September 1879. Previously, he attended the College of the City of New York for l.5 years. Austrian, pp. 349-350.
28. Hollerith's certificate, reproduced in Blodgett, Appendix J. On the different approaches to education of engineers, see M.A. Calvert, The Mechanical Engineer in AmerIca, 1930-1910.Baltimore, Md., 1967, p. 62.
29. Finch, p. 7.
30. Wright and Hunt, pp. 67-68.
31. Scientific Amer., vol. 75, p. 23, July23 1896.
32. Billings, "Forms of Tables of Vital Statistics," pp. 204-205; Billings, "Mechanical Methods," pp. 407-409; H. Hollerith to J.T. Wilson, 7 Aug. 1919, in IBM/CA, Box A-23-3, Endicot engineering.
33. H. Hollerith, "Apparatus for Compiling Statistics," U.S. Patent No. 395,783, 1889.
34. P. Israel, From Machine Shop to Industrial Laboratory: Telegraphy and the Changing Context of American Invention, 1830-1920.Baltimore, Md., 1992, pp. 75-78.
35. Holt, pp. 26-27.
36. Austrian, pp. 24-38.
37. Hollerith, "An Electric Tabulating System," p. 244; H. Hollerith to J.T. Wilson, 7 Aug. 1919.
38. H. Hollerith to A. Meyer, 14 July 1885. LC/Hollerith Papers, box 21, fld. 4.
39. Austrian, p. 41.
40. A 1890 census clerk's late anecdotal memoirs may substantiate this. C.A. Springer, "Data Processing 1890 Style," Datamation, July 1966, p. 44
41. A.J. Chandler, The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in Amencan Business.Cambridge, Mass., 1977, pp. 296-297.
42. Report of a Commission Appointed by the Honourable Superintendent of Census,Washington, D.C., 1889. Reprint by H. Hollerith in IBM/CAL/Box A-832-1, fld.: Hollerith/census.
43. L.C. Hunter, A History of Industrial Power in the United States, 1870-I930, vol. 2, Charlottesville, Va., 1985, pp. 265-266.
44. S. Lubar, lnfoculture.Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993, p. 124.
45. G.C. Fite and J.F. Reese, An Economic History of the United States.Boston, 1973, p. 433.
46. Austrian, p. 248.
47. S. Engelbourg, International Business Machines: A Business History [PhD dissertation, 1954]. New York: Ar no Press, 1976.
48. Truesdell, pp. 33-34.
49. Austrian, pp. 46, 51, 53-54.
50. H. Hollerith, "Machine for Compiling or Tabulating Statistics," U.S. Patent, No. 526,129, 1894, filed 1892; H. Hollerith, "Machine for Tabulating Statistics," U.S. Patent, No. 526,130, 1894, filed 1892; T. Lanston, "Adding-Machine," U.S. Patent, No. 622,157, 1899, filed 1894. Hollerith assigned the last two patents to Samuel Metcalfe in 1897. NA/RG 241: Index to assignments of patents 1837-1923, vol. H-24, 1868-1898, p. 70.
51. His work at the 1880 census on manufacturing statistics was based on addition.
52. H. Hollerith, "Electric Calculating System," U.S. Patent No. 430,804, 1890.
53. C. Wright to H. Hollerith, Feb.12 1894, LC/Hollerith Papers, box 10, fld. 1. The adder is described in: H. Hollerith, "Electrical Calculating System," U.S. Patent, No. 518,604, 1894, filed 1892; H. Hollerith, "Tabulating System," U.S. Patent, No. 518,885, 1894, filed 1893; H. Hollerith, "Tabulating System," U.S. Patent, No. 518,886, 1894, filed 1893. In addition, two photographs exists. Martin, p. 529, shows the prototype. "Hollerith's Electrical Tabulating Machine,"Railroad Gazette, 19 Apr. 1895, p. 246, shows the version run by an electric motor at New York Central and Hudson River Railroad in 1895.
54. E.J. Moorhead, Our Yesterdays: The History of the Actuary Profession in North America, 1809-1979.Shaumberg, Ill., 1989, p. 337.
55. Austrian, pp. 82-83.
56. Moorhead, p. 338; D.P. Fackler, "Regarding the Mortality Investigation, Instituted by the Actuarial Society of America and Now in Progress,"J. Institute of Actuaries, vol. 37, pp. 11-15, 1903; J. Yates, "Co-Evolution of Information-Processing Technology and Use: Interaction Between the Life Insurance and Tabulating Industries,"Business History Rev., vol. 67, pp. 14-15, 1993.
57. J.K. Gore, "Perforating Machine," U.S. Patent, No. 516,199, 1894; Moorhead, p. 338.
58. J. K. Gore to H. Hollerith, May23 1901, in LC/Hollerith Papers, box 10, fld. 1.
59. "Hollerith's Electric Tabulating Machine"; "Recording Waybill Statistics by Machinery," Railroad Gazette, vol. 34, pp. 526-527, 1903.
60. Austrian, pp. 124-127, 128-129.
61. Railroad Gazette, Jan.31 1896, p. 80; 9 Oct. 1896, p. 709.
62. H. Hollerith, "Apparatus for Perforating Record Cards," U.S. Patent, No.682,197, 1901, filed 1901. The patent holds no skip key, but one is provided in "Recording Waybill Statistics by Machinery," p. 526.
63. Austrian, pp. 172-175.
64. In addition to the patents cited below, see C.F. Pidgin, "Indicator," U.S. Patent, No.746,570, 1903; C.F. Pidgin, "Counting Device," U.S. Patent, No.772,371, 1904.
65. A sorting box is shown in C.F. Pidgin, "Method of Compiling Statistics," U.S. Patent, No.719,365, 1903, filed 1899; "Charles Felton Pidgin," Nat'l Cyclopedia of Amer. Biography, vol. 13, p. 479, 1906.
66. C.F. Pidgin, "Keyboard for Tabulating-Machines," U.S. Patent, No.740,042, 1903.
67. NA/RG 241: Index to Assignments of Patents 1837-1923, vol. P-21, p. 265, 1908-1910.
68. The report is in IBM/CA, Box A-832-2, Hollerith. Fld. TMC/Pinkerton investigation 1899-1902; H. Hollerith to S.G. Metcalfe, 23 May 1899, in IBM/CA, Box A-832-1, Hollerith, fld. Corresp./1899.
69. Report of the Commission Appointed by the Director of Census on the Competitive Test of Methods of Tabulation.Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1899. Printed version in NA/RG-40, NC-54 Entry 1. Fil 67865.
70. Gore had no influence on the choice of his system by the Actuary Society of America for a mortality investigation. J.K. Gore to H. Hollerith, 23 May 1901, in LC/Hollerith Papers, box 10, fld. l.
71. J.W. Cortada, Before the Computer: IBM, NCR, Burroughs, and Remington Rand and the Industry They Created, 1865-1956.Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1993, pp. 32, 40.
72. Correspondences in LC/Hollerith Papers, box 10, fld. 1.
73. Truesdell, pp. 103-115.
74. Later, horizontal card feeds were used as well.
75. H. Hollerith, "Tabulating apparatus," U.S. Patent, No.685,608, 1901, filed 1901; A.E. Gray,IBM Development Manual: Books, Numerical Tabulators. Endicott, N.Y.: IBM, 1956, pp. 13-16, in IBM/CA, box A-25-2, Endicott Engineering, fld., history/num.tab.
76. E.W. Byrn, "The Mechanical Work of the Twelfth Census," Scientific Amer., vol. 19, p. 275, Apr. 1902.
77. H. Hollerith to S.G. Metcalfe, 12 Mar. 1901, IBM/CA, box A-832-2, Hollerith, fld. TMC/System for Cost and Time Keeping.
78. M.W. Gaines, "Tabulating-Machine Cost-Accounting for Factories of Diversified Product," Eng. Magazine, vol. 30, pp. 364-373, 1895; G. Smith, "Distribution of Indirect Costs by the Machine-Hour Method,"Eng. Magazine, vol. 37, pp. 384-394, 1909; G. Smith,The Use of the Hollerith Tabulating Equipment by the Pennsylvania Steel Company, reprint fromFrog Shop Digest(Pennsylvania Steel Co.), Mar. 1911, in IBM/CA, box A-832-2, Hollerith, fld. TMC; S.G. Koon, "Cost Accounting by Machines,"Amer. Machinist, pp. 533-536, Aug. 1914; H.T. Johnson and R.S. Kaplan,Relevance Lost: The Rise and Fall of Management Accounting. Boston, 1991, pp. 132-133.
79. J.S. Donaldson, "Extract From a Paper Read Before the Association of American Railway Accounting Officers,"New York, ca.1913, in IBM/CA, Box A-832-2, fld.: Hollerith /TMC/Railroads.
80. Austrian, pp. 242-244.
81. H. Hollerith, "Registering Apparatus," U.S. Patent, No.777,209, filed 1903, issued 1904; H. Hollerith, "Apparatus for Use in Tabulating Systems," U.S. Patent, Reissue No. 12,523, 1906.
82. H. Hollerith, "Electrically Actuated Counter," U.S. Patent, No. 695,933, 1902, filed 1901.
83. Austrian, pp. 221-236.
84. M.H. Talbot, "Counting Our People by Machine," Scientific Amer., p. 176, Sept.11 1909; Truesdell, pp. 121-124.
85. M.D. Davies, General Services Administration, to R.H. Schellenberg, IBM, 11 Aug. 1969, and R.H. Schellenberg IBM, "Final Report on James Powers," 1969. Copies of both in National Archive for the History of Computing, Manchester, England, in B/5/B, Powers Samas, box 1.
86. J.T. Ferry, A History of the Sperry Rand and Remington Rand Corporations, and Their Predecessors, With Emphasis on Tabulating Machine Equipment, typescript 1964, Hagley Museum and Library, Sperry-Rand Company Records, accession 1825.
87. E.W. Pugh,Building IBM: Shaping an Industry and Its Technology, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1995, p. 62.
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