Exhibits At the Museum

This Day in History

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Today: December 21, 2014
Hollerith Electrical Printing and Tabulating Machine.

January 8, 1889

Herman Hollerith Receives a Patent for the Hollerith Tabulating Machine

Herman Hollerith receives a patent for his Hollerith Tabulating Machine, a punch card system that won a contest for a more efficient means of compiling the 1890 US census. To count an item, a small paper card on which a census taker had punched out holes corresponding to a citizen's census information, was fed through a press that sensed holes. A wire passing through the holes into a cup of mercury closed an electrical circuit and registered the item. In 1924, Hollerith's Tabulating Machine Co., and two other firms were consolidated into International Business Machines.