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Unit record equipment

Hollerithpunched card machinestabulating equipment
Punched cards were widely used through much of the 20th century in the data processing industry, where specialized and increasingly complex unit record machines, organized into semiautomatic data processing systems, used punched cards for data input, output, and storage.
This data processing was accomplished by processing punched cards through various unit record machines in a carefully choreographed progression.

Keypunch

key punchcard punchesdirect data entry (DDE)
Many early digital computers used punched cards, often prepared using keypunch machines, as the primary medium for input of both computer programs and data.
For Hollerith machines and other unit record machines the resulting punched cards contained data to be processed by those machines.

Computer

computerscomputer systemdigital computer
Many early digital computers used punched cards, often prepared using keypunch machines, as the primary medium for input of both computer programs and data.
The input of programs and data was to be provided to the machine via punched cards, a method being used at the time to direct mechanical looms such as the Jacquard loom.

1890 United States Census

1890 census1890Population
"After some initial trials with paper tape, he settled on punched cards...", developing punched card data processing technology for the 1890 US census.
Data was entered on a machine readable medium, punched cards, and tabulated by machine.

History of computing hardware

history of computerscomputer historyearly computers
It is considered an important step in the history of computing hardware.
In 1804, Joseph-Marie Jacquard developed a loom in which the pattern being woven was controlled by a paper tape constructed from punched cards.

Herman Hollerith

HollerithHollerith, Herman Hollerith, Herman
At the end of the 1800s Herman Hollerith invented the recording of data on a medium that could then be read by a machine.
Herman Hollerith (February 29, 1860 – November 17, 1929) was an American inventor who developed an electromechanical punched card tabulator to assist in summarizing information and, later, accounting.

Computer program

programprogramscomputer programs
Many early digital computers used punched cards, often prepared using keypunch machines, as the primary medium for input of both computer programs and data.
It used punched card machines for input and output, and it was controlled with a clock signal.

Voting machine

voting machineselectronic voting machineelectronic voting machines
While punched cards are now obsolete as a storage medium, as of 2012, some voting machines still use punched cards to record votes.
Using a series of dials, the voter could record up to twenty ranked preferences to a punched card, one preference at a time.

Dehomag

an IBM subsidiaryDeutsche Hollerith Maschinen GesellschaftDeutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH
Other companies entering the punched card business included The Tabulator Limited (1902) (later renamed the British Tabulating Machine Company), Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH (Dehomag) (1911), Powers Accounting Machine Company (1911), Remington Rand (1927), and H.W. Egli Bull (1931).
Hollerith refers to the German-American inventor of the technology of punched cards, Herman Hollerith.

Data processing

data-processingprocessingprocessing of data
Digital data can be used for data processing applications or, in earlier examples, used to directly control automated machinery.
The term automatic data processing was applied to operations performed by means of unit record equipment, such as Herman Hollerith's application of punched card equipment for the 1890 United States Census.

Groupe Bull

BullBull SACII Honeywell Bull
Other companies entering the punched card business included The Tabulator Limited (1902) (later renamed the British Tabulating Machine Company), Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH (Dehomag) (1911), Powers Accounting Machine Company (1911), Remington Rand (1927), and H.W. Egli Bull (1931).
The company has also been known at various times as Bull General Electric, Honeywell Bull, CII Honeywell Bull, and Bull HN. Bull was founded in 1931, as H.W. Egli - Bull, to capitalize on the punched card technology patents of Norwegian engineer Fredrik Rosing Bull (1882–1925).

Thomas J. Watson

Thomas J. Watson, Sr.Thomas WatsonThomas J. Watson Sr.
Tom Watson Jr.'s decision to sign this decree, where IBM saw the punched card provisions as the most significant point, completed the transfer of power to him from Thomas Watson, Sr.
He turned the company into a highly-effective selling organization, based largely on punched card tabulating machines.

Computer terminal

terminalterminalsdumb terminal
Punched cards were still commonly used for entering both data and computer programs until the mid-1980s when the combination of lower cost magnetic disk storage, and affordable interactive terminals on less expensive minicomputers made punched cards obsolete for these roles as well.
Early terminals were inexpensive devices but very slow compared to punched cards or paper tape for input, but as the technology improved and video displays were introduced, terminals pushed these older forms of interaction from the industry.

Jacques de Vaucanson

Vaucanson
The design was improved by his assistant Jean-Baptiste Falcon and Jacques Vaucanson (1740) Although these improvements controlled the patterns woven, they still required an assistant to operate the mechanism.
Vaucanson was trying to automate the French textile industry with punch cards - a technology that, as refined by Joseph-Marie Jacquard more than a half-century later, would revolutionize weaving and, in the twentieth century, would be used to input data into computers and store information in binary form.

Powers Accounting Machine

PowersPowers Accounting Machine CompanyJames Powers
Other companies entering the punched card business included The Tabulator Limited (1902) (later renamed the British Tabulating Machine Company), Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH (Dehomag) (1911), Powers Accounting Machine Company (1911), Remington Rand (1927), and H.W. Egli Bull (1931).
The new machine was faster, cheaper, more accurate, less error-prone, and less wasteful than Hollerith's or Pidgin's, while maintaining compatibility with Hollerith's punched card format.

Joseph Marie Jacquard

Jacquard Jacquard, Joseph MarieJoseph Marie Jacquard Memorial Award
In 1804 Joseph Marie Jacquard demonstrated a mechanism to automate loom operation.
This claim has been challenged: Initially few Jacquard looms were sold because of problems with the punched card mechanism.

George Cogar

Mohawk Data Sciences
Mohawk Data Sciences introduced a magnetic tape encoder in 1965, a system marketed as a keypunch replacement which was somewhat successful.
George R. Cogar (born 1932) was the head of the UNIVAC 1004 electronic design team code named the "bumblebee project", and later the "barn project", and co-founder of Mohawk Data Sciences Corporation, a Herkimer, N.Y.-based multimillion-dollar business built largely on his invention of the Data Recorder magnetic tape encoder, which was introduced in 1965 and eliminated the need for keypunches and punched cards by direct encoding on tape.

Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company

The Tabulating Machine CompanyComputing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR)Tabulating Machine Company
Hollerith founded the Tabulating Machine Company (1896) which was one of four companies that were amalgamated (via stock acquisition) to form a fifth company, Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) (1911), later renamed International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) (1924).
Herman Hollerith initially did business under his own name, as The Hollerith Electric Tabulating System, specializing in punched card data processing equipment.

Computer data storage

main memorystoragememory
During the 1960s, the punched card was gradually replaced as the primary means for data storage by magnetic tape, as better, more capable computers became available.
Some other examples of secondary storage technologies are flash memory (e.g. USB flash drives or keys), floppy disks, magnetic tape, paper tape, punched cards, standalone RAM disks, and Iomega Zip drives.

Loom

handloomhand loomhand-loom
Basile Bouchon developed the control of a loom by punched holes in paper tape in 1725.
The loom is controlled by punched cards with punched holes, each row of which corresponds to one row of the design.

Semyon Korsakov

Korsakovian
Semyon Korsakov was reputedly the first to propose punched cards in informatics for information store and search.
The punch card had been introduced in 1805, but until that time had been used solely in the textile industry to control looms.

Charles Babbage

BabbageBabbage, CharlesBabbage engines
Charles Babbage proposed the use of "Number Cards", "pierced with certain holes and stand opposite levers connected with a set of figure wheels ... advanced they push in those levers opposite to which there are no holes on the cards and thus transfer that number together with its sign" in his description of the Calculating Engine's Store.
The major innovation was that the Analytical Engine was to be programmed using punched cards: the Engine was intended to use loops of Jacquard's punched cards to control a mechanical calculator, which could use as input the results of preceding computations.

EBCDIC

Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code
The introduction of EBCDIC in 1964 defined columns with as many as six punches (zones [12,11,0,8,9] + digit [1–7]).
It descended from the code used with punched cards and the corresponding six bit binary-coded decimal code used with most of IBM's computer peripherals of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Remington Rand

RemingtonRemington Rand CorporationAmerican Kardex
Other companies entering the punched card business included The Tabulator Limited (1902) (later renamed the British Tabulating Machine Company), Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH (Dehomag) (1911), Powers Accounting Machine Company (1911), Remington Rand (1927), and H.W. Egli Bull (1931).
In 1949, Remington Rand designed the Remington Rand 409, a control panel programmed punched card calculator (but not introduced as a product until 1952 as the UNIVAC 60 then in 1953 as the UNIVAC 120 with double the memory).

Lace card

IBM Doilies
Such "lace cards" lacked structural strength, and would frequently buckle and jam inside the machine.
A lace card is a punched card with all holes punched (also called a whoopee card, ventilator card, flyswatter card, or IBM doily). They were mainly used as practical jokes to cause unwanted disruption in card readers.