Herman Hollerith

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Herman Hollerith
Birthday
BirthplaceBuffalo, New York
Died
Occupation
Statistician, inventor, businessman
EducationCity College of New York (1875) Columbia University School of Mines (1879)
Known for mechanical tabulation of punched card data

Hollerith, Herman

(hō`lərĭth), 1860–1929, American inventor, b. Buffalo, N.Y. After graduating from Columbia Univ. (B.S., 1879), he worked on the U.S. Census of 1880. Intrigued by the problem of tabulating vast amounts of data, he developed over the next several years a card that could be represent data through a series of punched holes and a number of machines for punching and tabulating the cards. In 1896 Hollerith founded the Tabulating Machine Company which, through mergers and acquisitions, grew into the International Business Machines Company.

Bibliography

See G. Austrian, Herman Hollerith (1982).

Hollerith, Herman

(1860–1929) engineer, computer inventor; born in Buffalo, N.Y. Working as a statistician for the U.S. census of 1880, he became aware of the need for automation in the recording and processing of vast amounts of data. Working first at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then at the U.S. Patent Office (1884–90), he invented a tabulating machine that was fed data via electrical contacts controlled by the holes in punch cards. His machine won a contest for the best data-processing equipment for the U.S. census of 1890 and he organized the Tabulating Machine Company (1896) to make improved versions that soon were being used by other countries. His company merged with others to become the Computing–Tabulating–Recording Company (1911) which adopted the name of International Business Machines Corporation in 1924. Although he was early praised for revolutionizing statistical processing, it was only decades later that he was recognized as having anticipated the modern computer.

Herman Hollerith

(person)
The promulgator of the punched card. Hollerith was born on 1860-02-29 and died on 1929-11-17. He graduated from Columbia University, NewYork, NY, USA. He joined the US Census Bureau as a statistician where he used a punched card device to help analyse the 1880 US census data. This punched card system stored data in 80 columns. This "80-column" concept has carried forward in various forms into modern applications.

In 1896, Hollerith founded the Tabulating Machine Company to exploit his invention and in 1924 his firm became part of IBM. The Hollerith system was used for the 1911 UK census.

A correspondant writes:

Wasn't Hollerith's original machine first used for the 1990 US census? And I think I am right in saying that the physical layout was a 20x12 grid of round holes. The one I have seen (picture only, unfortunately, not the real thing) did not use 'columns' as such but holes were grouped into irregularly-shaped fields, such that each hole had a more-or-less independent function.

Herman Hollerith

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