Punched Card Sorter
Punched Card Sorter
It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention. In the 1880s, the United States
Census Bureau had a problem. It had taken them almost eight years to tabulate the data
from the 1880 census. Federal officials worried that it would take even longer to compile
the 1890 census results. Thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of American engineer
Herman Hollerith, the problem was solved. In 1881, Hollerith began designing a machine
to tabulate census data more efficiently than by traditional hand methods. He got his
original inspiration from watching a train conductor punch tickets. To collect data,
Hollerith adopted the punched card method developed in the early 1800s by a French silk
weaver, Joseph-Marie Jacquard. Hollerith invented a punched card tabulating machine
that could be read by electrical sensing. Data was transferred from the census taker's
sheet to a punched card. Each card represented one person and each hole recorded a
different statistic. The punched cards, like those pictured below, were sorted and read
electronically by the punched card sorter. This system made it possible for one Census
Bureau employee to compute data on thousands of people in one day. With the help of
Hollerith's machines, the Census Bureau was able to tabulate the 1890 census in a single
year. Following the success of his invention, Hollerith established a business called the
Tabulating Machine Company. His company, through subsequent mergers, became part
of what we know today as the International Business Machines Corporation - IBM.
Although sophisticated data collecting computers have made the use of punched card
systems almost obsolete, punched card ballots are still used in many areas of the United
States for voting purposes.
TITLE #1: Washington D.C. (1939?)--An operator at the US Bureau of the Census
pointing out the interior mechanism of the punched card sorter
REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington,
D.C. 20540 USA
DIGITAL ID: (b&w film copy neg.) cph 3c29751
Title #2: Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyards, Baltimore, Maryland. Punch time cards for
Siegel, Arthur S., photographer.
Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection
(Library of Congress)
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540
(intermediary roll film) fsa 8d17160 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8d17160
Although sound waves had been recorded by the mid 1800s, the first device to both
record and reproduce sound was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. He called his
cylindrical sound-recording machine a "phonograph." This early talking machine played
records made of tinfoil, upon which grooves of varying depth were cut. The sound was
poor and each recording could only be played once. In 1886, an improved recording
device called a "graphophone" was developed. Grooves cut on a wax-coated paper
cylinder produced better sound. Although reproductive quality was improved, every
cylinder had to be recorded individually. In 1887, German immigrant Emile Berliner
invented a recording system called the “gramophone” which produced quality recordings
that could also be used repeatedly and from which many copies of the original recording
could be made. He founded the Gramophone Company to mass produce his sound discs
and the machine that played them. He persuaded popular artists like Enrico Caruso to
record music using his system. As his official trademark, he adopted Francis Barraud's
painting of "His Master's Voice" picturing the dog Nipper. Berliner eventually sold his
gramophone patent rights to the Victor Talking Machine Company, which later became
RCA Victor Recording Company. Although many improvements were made to the
recorded disc, by the 1990s most recording companies stopped producing records in
favor of cassette tapes and compact discs.
TITLE: Early gramophone, hand cranked
Washington, D.C.: Paul Tralles , 1894
Printed on front of card: "Paul Tralles, 808 7th St. N. W. Washington, D. C."
Library of Congress. Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.
Washington, D. C. 20540 USA
On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell wrote the following in a letter to his father,
Alexander Melville Bell: "...Articulate speech was transmitted intelligibly this afternoon.
I have constructed a new apparatus operated by the human voice. It is not of course
complete yet -- but some sentences were understood this afternoon. I was in one room at
the Transmitting Instrument and Mr. Watson at the Receiving Instrument in another room
-- out of earshot. I called out into the Transmitting Instrument, 'Mr. Watson -- come here
-- I want to see you' -- and he came!" The apparatus that he was referring to was the
telephone -- an invention that has changed the course of communications history. Bell's
success with the telephone resulted from his attempts to improve the telegraph. While
experimenting with a technique he called "harmonic telegraph," Bell discovered that he
could hear sound over a wire. The Detroit Publishing Company photograph pictured on
the opposite page depicts the telephone itself. Great debate has surrounded the invention
of the telephone. Several other scientists -- Philipp Reiss from Germany, Italian inventor
Antonio Meucci, and Ohioan Elisha Gray -- were also experimenting with similar
technology during the same period. In fact, Gray and Bell actually filed for patents on the
same day - February 14, 1876. Who really invented the telephone remains a controversial
question today. In 2002, the United States Congress officially recognized Meucci as the
original inventor of the telephone in H.RES.269. S. RES. 223, a bill introduced by
Senator Jon Corzine recognizing Meucci's achievements, is currently being studied by the
Senate Committee on the Judiciary. No matter how history finally rules on the debate of
the inventor of the telephone, Bell's legacy -- the Bell Telephone Company, now known
as the American Telephone and Telegraph Corporation -- continues as a presence in
our daily lives.
Title: The Detroit news timely topics. Bell's first telephone.
Underwood & Underwood, photographer.
[between 1915 and 1925]
Photograph of a photographic print by "Underwood & Underwood, Inc., photographers,
Detroit Publishing Company Photograph Collection
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
(intermediary roll film) det 4a27975
From large battery-operated table models to tiny transistors - the radio has come a long
way. But WHO really invented the radio? Although Gugliemo Marconi is generally
thought to be the father of the wireless radio, experiments and discoveries by many other
scientists and physicists contributed to its development. Alessandro Volta's 1838
invention of the battery and Andre Ampere's scientific studies about electricity and
magnetism helped Samuel Morse invent the first electric telegraph machine. In 1865,
Washington, D.C., dentist Dr. Mahlon Loomis began experimenting with the idea of
wireless messaging. In 1887, Heinrich Hertz produced the first radio waves. In addition
to Marconi, two other 19th century contemporaries - Nikola Tesla and Nathan
Stufflefield - took out patents for wireless radio transmitters. In fact, as recently as 1943,
the Supreme Court reviewed Tesla's unsuccessful 1915 court injunction against Marconi,
and acknowledged Tesla as the inventor of the radio based on his patent of 1897. Radio
technology has grown significantly since its early development. In 1947, Bell Labs
scientists invented the transistor. In 1954, a small Japanese company called Sony
introduced the transistor radio. Today there are over 40,000 radio stations around the
world and most families own at least one radio.
Title: Old-time battery radio / photo by Harry M. Rhoads.
Rhoads, Harry Mellon, 1880 or 81-1975.
[between 1915 and 1925?].
Interior view of a battery powered radio, sitting on a table with spindle legs with a large
brass sound horn mounted on a post, in a home probably in Denver, Colorado.
Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library, 10 W. 14th Avenue
Parkway, Denver, Colorado 80204.
codhawp 00185179 http://photoswest.org/cgi-bin/imager?00185179+Rh-179