TABULATING MACHINE  Origin, History and Evolution ▷ 2020

The tabulating machine is considered by many to be the first step in the creation of modern computing. He was born around 1890 out of a need to register the people who lived in the United States at that time.

The data processing was carried out mechanically, through magnetic cards, cables and mercury. It had a binary reading system that issued the reports according to the data established in advance.

But these are not the only relevant data that you can know about this machine. If you want to learn a little more about the invention of Herman Hollerith, we invite you to continue reading this post. Here you will find the most complete information on this invention that revolutionized the world at the end of the 19th century.

What is a tabulating machine and what is it used for in computing?

Tabulating in computing is exposing data in table form. The tabulating machine is a tool used to process information in a mechanized way by means of punch cards, which work with two possible outcomes. That is, the binary method is used to obtain the results.

History and origin of tabulating machines Who invented them and what was their impact?

History and origin of tabulating machines Who invented them and what was their impact?

As we already told you in the previous paragraph, one of the first elements that managed to process data in a non-manual way is known as a tabulator machine. This could be done for the first time in the year 1890 thanks to the invention of Herman Hollerith, which had been commissioned by the United States government to process all the information from the census conducted in that year as quickly as possible.

An electrical binary system was used with which all the punched cards of more than 62 million people could be loaded in just 6 weeks. This invention gave Hollerith the nickname of “Father of computing”, since he was the first person to automatically process the information, but many people consider that recognizing the statesman as the first computer scientist is a mistake. Since there were other inventors, Before the creation of the census machine, they made different findings of data processing machines.

This generated a great impact in the world of computing, since it began to look at computing as a very important tool for man. By this we refer not only to saving time in the process, but also to the precision provided by the processed results. A few years later, Hollerith founded his company, which it was merged some time later in the present IBM.

Parts of a tabulator What are the most important elements of this equipment?

The elements that a tabulating machine has are:

  • Card reader: It deals with the entrance to the mechanized process, in which the cards that have the information are entered through the perforation of the data that they want to dump into a table.
  • Sorter: This element was used to place the cards in a certain sequence in order to establish the possible results.
  • Interposer: Although they did many jobs, one of the most important is that they performed the function of arranging and ordering the punched card packages in sequence.
  • Counter: Also called “Calculating”. When all the cards were placed in the correct order, they were passed through this element. What this did was that the data could be accounted for in an exact way through arithmetic.
  • Tabulator: Perhaps the most important component of the machine and with which the definitive reports of the mechanized process of information capture could be obtained.
  • Player: It was used to duplicate the results of the cards.

Functions of a tabulating machine What tasks could be carried out from them?

These tabulating machines worked with mercury. All the cards were placed perforated on top of containers containing this material and above these cables were placed in the form of springs that they were looking for the perforation to leave engraved in the mercury that the card had been able to pass. In the event that no perforation is found these cables could not record any information.

In this way, tabulated reports are obtained about the information sought.. For example, it was used for censuses in the first place, but later it was refined until it could become accounting machines, which could analyze up to 300 cards in a minute.

A few years later, when the addition function was incorporated, it began to be used in shops where satisfactory results were also obtained. In this way, its success did not stop until 1940, when electronic elements began to be used instead of mechanized ones and thus the era of modern computing was born.

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