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Herman Hollerith: Electric Tabulating Device, 1890


After a card had been processed, a slot in the sorting box was popped open by electrical signal and the operator dropped the card into the slot. The card becomes the permanent record for an individual. The 1890 census measured the characteristics of over 65 million people.

Improvements in later models included a card punch machine built along the lines of a typewriter, an adjustable wiring feature to enable counts of column combinations, an automatic card feeder, connection to adding machines to add multi-digit numbers. A redesigned card of 80 columns and 14 rows extended the recording capability to the alphabet plus certain punctuation marks. A printer of card data improved the distribution of information.

Hollerith's card sorter and counter remained in use by businesses through the 1960s and an operator with ingenuity could manipulate column contents and sorting sequences to produce sophisticated statistical models.


Census Form C- FEMALE NATIVE Conjugal Condition, 1889 (949k)


Census Form B- Size of Families, 1889 (981k) | Page 2 (993k)


Census Form A- Families and Dwellings, 1889 (997k)