The Birth of Data
Herman Hollerith (1860-1929)
Pantograph punch template
Modern data processing began with the inventions
of American engineer, Herman Hollerith. In 1881 Hollerith began
designing a machine to tabulate census data more efficiently than
by traditional hand methods. The U.S. Census Bureau had taken
eight years to complete the 1880 census, and it was feared that
the 1890 census would take even longer.
Hollerith's great breakthrough was his use of
electricity to read, count, and sort punched cards whose holes
represented data gathered by the census-takers. His machines were
used for the 1890 census and accomplished in one year what would
have taken nearly ten years of hand tabulating. Hollerith's company
later developed into the International Business Machines Corporation,
known as IBM.