The Franklin Institute Logo
Case Files logo

Herman Hollerith: Electric Tabulating Device, 1890

Introduction: Herman Hollerith

A Chief Special Agent to the Census Bureau as well as an instructor in mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Herman Hollerith sought to devise a method to process the expanding population data for the 1890 U.S. census. His observation of a railroad conductor punching riders' tickets contributed a key idea to Hollerith's system.

Who was Herman Hollerith, and what was his Electric Tabulating Device? How did it work to process information?

These pages hold the answers to these questions and tell the fascinating story of one man's invention.