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Herman Hollerith: Electric Tabulating Device, 1890


Hollerith set up his Tabulating Machine Company in 1886, and the Hollerith System was successfully tested on mortality data for insurance companies and freight bills for railroads in New York and Baltimore in 1887. It was entered in a Census Bureau competition against two others to determine the system to be used for the 1890 census. Other contestants were statisticians Charles F. Pidgin and William C. Hunt, whose systems involved transcription of the data to colored slips or cards respectively. The Hollerith System won and production of punching machines and card sorters was set in motion.