Saturday Scenes

Wed 12 January 2011

Mechanised Tabulation

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 21:28

On the 8th of January 1889, Herman Hollerith was granted Patent 395,738 for An Electric Tabulating System to be used for compiling statistics.

Herman Hollerith (1860-1929) was a mining engineer from New York who was not good at numbers but did have an eye for mechanical processes. His tabulating system was based on coding data numerically and punching specific locations on a paper card in order to sort the data mechanically. Although two other inventors released tabulating systems at the same time, Hollerith’s system was by far the fastest. His machines were used by the US Census Office for the 1890 census, which took the processing time down from eight years to one. Hollerith founded the Tabulating Machine Company to lease custom built machines to census bureaux and insurance companies around the world.

In 1906 he added a control panel which allowed the Tabulator to do different jobs without being rebuilt. In 1911, the Tabulating Machine Company merged with the International Time Recording Company, The Tabulating Machine Company and the Computing Scale Company to become the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR), an early conglomerate. CTR had 1,300 employees when salesman Thomas J. Watson Sr. came on board.

IBM Archives: Herman Hollerith

CTR was in deep trouble when Watson joined the company in 1914. Competition’s tabulating machines by then performed better and rented for less than Hollerith’s, and CTR salesmen were either hucksters who knew little about their products or repairmen who knew little and cared less about salesmanship. Some changes were needed. Watson set out immediately to make them.

He assigned Clair Lake and Frank Carroll the task of producing an improved machine that would print results automatically. Hollerith refused to have anything to do with the resulting machine, which was a modification of his, or the men who designed it.

Hollerith retired to his farm on the Chesapeake Bay, raising Guernsey cattle. Watson revamped the sales team and quickly rose to General Manager and then president of CTR.

In 1924, the corporation was renamed International Business Machines Corporation, now commonly known as IBM.

And on the 8th of January 2011, the following photographs were digitised, stored on computers and shared around the world, just so that all of us could see Saturday Scenes:

And here are the computational experts who brought you the colourful bits and bytes above:

You can find out what all of these great people are up to simply by checking the Saturday Scenes list which includes all participants from 2011.

And if you’d like to join in, just take a photograph on Saturday and send the link to @SatScenes with the location! It’s easy and fun and we love seeing new sights.

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