Basile Bouchon was a textile worker in the silk center in
invented a way to control a loom with a perforated paper tape in
1725. The son of an organ maker, Bouchon partially automated the
tedious setting up process of the drawloom in which an operator lifted
the warp threads using cords.
This development is considered to be the first industrial application
of a semi-automated machine.
The cords of the warp were passed through the eyes of horizontal
needles arranged to slide in a box. These were either raised or not
depending on whether there was not or was a hole in the tape at that
point. This was similar to the piano roll developed at the end of
the 19th century and may have been inspired by the patterns that were
traditionally drawn on squared paper.
Three years later, his assistant Jean-Baptiste Falcon expanded the
number of cords that could be handled by arranging the holes in rows
and using rectangular cards that were joined together in an endless
Though this eliminated mistakes in the lifting of threads, it still
needed an extra operator to control it and the first attempt at
automation was made by
Jacques Vaucanson in 1745. But it was not until
1805 that the wildly successful Jacquard mechanism was finally
^ Jean-Claude Heudin (2007). Les créatures artificielles : Des
automates aux mondes virtuels [Artificial creatures: From automata to
virtual worlds]. Odile Jacob. p. 73.
^ Philip and Emily Morrison, eds. (1961). Charles Babbage and his
Calculating Engines. Dover Publications, Inc, New York. xxxiv.
ISBN 0486200124. CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
Poncelet, Jean-Victor, Travaux de la Commission Francaise.
L’Exposition Universelle de 1851, vol. 3, part 1 (Machines et outils
appliqués aux arts textiles), section 2, pages 348-349 (1857).
[Poncelet’s history of the
Jacquard loom is the basis for most
Usher, Abbot Payson. A History of Mechanical Inventions. Revised
edition. (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, Inc., 1988), pages
289-291. (Originally published in 1929 by Harvard University Press in
Randell, Brian, ed. The Origins of Digital Computers: Selected Papers,
3rd ed. (N.Y., N.Y.: Springer-Verlag, 1982), page 5.
Eymard, Paul (1863) “Historique du metier Jacquard” Annales des
Sciences physiques et naturelles*, 3rd series, vol. 7, pages 34–56;
see especially page 37. (* published in Lyon, France by Barret)
Ballot, Charles. L’introduction du machinisme dans l’industrie
française. (Lille-Paris: F. Rieder, 1923), page 339.
Ballot, Charles. Revue d'histoire de Lyon: Études, Documents,
Bibliographie (Lyon, France: A. Rey et Co., 1913), vol. 2, pages
Barlow, Alfred. The History and Principles of Weaving by Hand and by
Power (London, England: Kessinger Publishing, 2007). See Chapter 11.
(Originally published in 1876 by Sampson Low, Marston, Searle &
Rivington in London.)
History of Computers
Photograph of replica of