The TABULATING MACHINE was an electromechanical machine designed to assist in summarizing information stored on punched cards . Invented by Herman Hollerith , the machine was developed to help process data for the 1890 U.S. Census . Later models were widely used for business applications such as accounting and inventory control . It spawned a class of machines, known as unit record equipment , and the data processing industry.
* 1 1890 census * 2 Following the 1890 census * 3 Operation * 4 Selected Models and timeline * 5 See also * 6 Notes * 7 References * 8 Further reading * 9 External links
The 1880 census had taken eight years to process. Since the U.S. Constitution mandates a census every ten years to apportion both congressional representatives and direct taxes among the states , a larger staff or faster method was required.
In the late 1880s Herman Hollerith , inspired by conductors using holes punched in different positions on a railway ticket to record traveler details such as gender and approximate age, invented the recording of data on a machine readable medium. Prior uses of machine readable media had been for lists of instructions (not data) to drive programmed machines such as Jacquard looms . "After some initial trials with paper tape, he settled on punched cards ..." Hollerith used punched cards with round holes, 12 rows and 24 columns. His tabulator used electromechanical relays (and solenoids ) to increment mechanical counters. A set of spring-loaded wires were suspended over the card reader. The card sat over pools of mercury , pools corresponding to the possible hole positions in the card. When the wires were pressed onto the card, punched holes allowed wires to dip into the mercury pools, making an electrical contact that could be used for counting, sorting, and setting off a bell to let the operator know the card had been read. The tabulator had 40 counters, each with a dial divided into 100 divisions, with two indicator hands; one which stepped one unit with each counting pulse, the other which advanced one unit every time the other dial made a complete revolution. This arrangement allowed a count up to 10,000. During a given tabulating run, counters could be assigned a specific hole or, using relay logic , a combination of holes, e.g. to count married females. If the card was to be sorted a compartment lid of the sorting box would open for storage of the card, the choice of compartment depending on the data in the card.
Hollerith's method was used for the 1890 census. Clerks used keypunches to punch holes in the cards entering age, state of residence, gender, and other information from the returns.
FOLLOWING THE 1890 CENSUS
The advantages of the technology were immediately apparent for
accounting and tracking inventory . Hollerith started his own business
as The Hollerith Electric Tabulating System, specializing in punched
card data processing equipment . In 1896 he incorporated the
Tabulating Machine Company. In that year he introduced the Hollerith
Integrating Tabulator, which could add numbers coded on punched cards,
not just count the number of holes.
In 1911, four corporations, including Hollerith's firm, were
amalgamated (via stock acquisition) to form a fifth company, the
Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR). The Powers Accounting
Machine Company was formed that same year and, like Hollerith, with
machines first developed at the Census Bureau. In 1919 the first Bull
tabulator prototype was developed. Tabulators that could print, and
with removable control panels, appeared in the 1920s. In 1924 CTR was
International Business Machines (IBM). In 1927 Remington Rand
acquires the Powers
Accounting Machine Company. In 1933 The Tabulating
Machine Company was subsumed into IBM. These companies continued to
develop faster and more sophisticated tabulators, culminating in
tabulators such as the 1949
Many applications using unit record tabulators were migrated to
computers such as the
In its basic form, a tabulating machine would read one card at a time, print portions (fields) of the card on fan-fold paper , possibly rearranged, and add one or more numbers punched on the card to one or more counters, called accumulators . On early models, the accumulator register dials would be read manually after a card run to get totals. Later models could print totals directly. Cards with a particular punch could be treated as master cards causing different behavior. For example, customer master cards could be merged with sorted cards recording individual items purchased. When read by the tabulating machine to create invoices, the billing address and customer number would be printed from the master card, and then individual items purchased and their price would be printed. When the next master card was detected, the total price would be printed from the accumulator and the page ejected to the top of the next page, typically using a carriage control tape .
With successive stages or cycles of punched-card processing, fairly complex calculations could be made if one had a sufficient set of equipment. (In modern data processing terms, one can think of each stage as an SQL clause: SELECT (filter columns), then WHERE (filter cards, or "rows"), then maybe a GROUP BY for totals and counts, then a SORT BY; and then perhaps feed those back to another set of SELECT and WHERE cycles again if needed.) A human operator had to retrieve, load, and store the various card decks at each stage.
SELECTED MODELS AND TIMELINE
Hollerith's first tabulators were used for the U.S. 1890 Census.
The first Tabulating Machine Company (TMC) automatic feed tabulator, operating at 150 cards/minute, was developed in 1906.
The first TMC printing tabulator was developed in 1920.
The 301 (better known as the Type IV) Accounting Machine was the first card-controlled machine to incorporate class selection, automatic subtraction and printing of a net positive or negative balance. Dating to 1928, this machine exemplifies the transition from tabulating to accounting machines. The Type IV could list 100 cards per minute.
H.W.Egli - BULL Tabulator model T30, 1931
The 401, introduced in 1933, was an early entry in a long series of
Introduced in 1934, the 405 Alphabetical
Accounting Machine was the
basic bookkeeping and accounting machine marketed by
BULL BS-PR tabulating machine
The 1952 Bull Gamma 3 could be attached to this tabulator or to a card read/punch.
Introduced in 1949, it was later adapted to serve as an input/output
peripheral for a number of early electronic calculators and computers.
Its printing mechanism was used in the
* List of
For early use of tabulators for scientific computations see
* ^ The "sorting box" was controlled by the tabulator. The
"sorter", an independent machine, was a later development. See:
Austrian, Geoffrey D. (1982). Herman Hollerith: Forgotten Giant of
* ^ Eames, Charles; Eames, Ray (1973). A