How the US Census led to the creation of the first data processing company 125 years ago
The American computing industry began.

The US Constitution requires a census at the beginning of each decade.

This Census has always had political significance and continues to do so. This is illustrated by the debate before the 2020 census.

But little is known about How important the Census was to the development of the computer industry in the United States, a story I tell in my book, The Republic. Numbers: The Unexpected Stories of American Athletes Throughout History. This date includes the founding of the first automated data processing company, the Tabulating Machines Company, 125 years ago on December 3, 1896.

Population Growth

Only using a clear definition is known to enumerate. The constitution provides for allocating seats in the House of Representatives. The most populous states win more seats.

A simple interpretation of the Census task requires reporting only the total population of each state. But the statistic did not limit itself to that.

A complicating factor appeared at the beginning, the constitution distinguishing between "free people" and "three-fifths of all people". This was the founding fathers' shameful compromise between those nations that had been enslaved and those in which relatively few lived.

The first census, in 1790, also defined unlawful age discrimination. and gender In the following decades, many other personal characteristics were examined: employment status, marital status, educational status, place of birth, etc.

As the country grew, every Census put in more effort than it had in the past. , not only to collect data, but also to collect it in a usable manner. processing of the 1880 Census was not completed until 1888.

It has become a tedious, tedious, and error-prone desk exercise that we seldom see.

Since the time of the inhabitants. It's obviously growing fast, and those with enough imagination could have expected that addressing the 1890 Census would be really scary without changing the procedure.


New Invention

John Shaw Billings, the physician who helped the Census Bureau compile health statistics, took note of the extensive tabulation efforts needed to counteract raw data in the 1880s. Recent graduate of Columbia College of Mines.

On September 23, 1884, the United States Patent and Trademark Office registered an application from 24-year-old Holler. eth titled "The Art of Statistics Collection". src="" alt=" How the US Census led the first data processing company in 125 Years" srcset="https://cdn. wp-content/uploads/2021/12/1902_Hollerith_electric_tabulation_machine.jpg 2x "> Zoom / Hollerith's electric tabulator was used in 1902. The US Census Bureau won gradually as 19 ideas gradually improved. A competition to improve the processing of the 1890 census.

Hollerith's technological solutions included a combination of mechanical and electrical devices. The first major innovation was the translation of parchment Census paper data into patterns of punched holes in cards. As Hollerith stated in a review of his patent application in 1889, "In this way a hole is drilled according to the person, then one hole corresponds to a man or a woman, and another hole is recorded, whether domestic or foreign." white or tinted etc. "

This process required the development of special machines to ensure that holes could be drilled accurately and efficiently.

Then Hollerith checked the card with a machine that invented the card to "read". For example, if the card was for a man White or farmer passing by the machine, the counter would be increased by one for each of these classes. Provided the different classes were counted or the results reviewed.

Counting continued so quickly that state numbers were needed to divide Congress Approved before End of November 1890.

Ad The Zoom in/ The "mechanical punch card" was used for the 1950 census. US Census Bureau

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Hollerith entered the technology field after a successful census, and the company he founded, the Tabular Machines Company, became IBM International Business Machines after his retirement. The advent of card technology has led to the recording and tabulation of large data for a variety of purposes.

In the 1930s, many companies used cards for record-keeping procedures such as payroll and inventory. Compressed data was needed, and astronomers, especially astronomers, were comfortable with cards. It was the basis of the powerful computer industry that flourished after World War II. , and IBM will be the world's third largest over time. It is a scaffold for the fastest and most space-efficient fully electronic computers, which are now prevalent and there is still little evidence of the old system. Communicating with them may be through the touch of a finger or even by The sound route was so unfamiliar with room-size computers in the 1950s and 1960s that the main tool for downloading data and instructions was to create a deck of cards with the push of a button. device, and then feed this surface to the card reader. This remained the case for many computers until the 1980s.

As computer pioneer Grace Murray Hooper recalls her early job, "In those days, everyone used punch cards." They did, and they thought you'd be using punch cards forever. “One of the card reader giants. Enough, the first UNIVAC was handed over to the US Census Bureau in 1951, which was still hungry to improve its data processing capabilities. No, computer users ran out forever. Punch cards didn’t use them, but they used them. Plan The Apollo Moon landings and the height of the Cold War. Hollerith may have known direct descendants from the 1890 Census almost 100 years later.

This is an updated version of the article originally published on October 15, 2019. Why doesn't Apple Touch return an ID to iPhone?

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