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Herman Hollerith

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Herman Hollerith

Herman Hollerith in 1888
Born February 29, 1860(1860-02-29)
Buffalo, New York
Died November 17, 1929(1929-11-17) (aged 69)
Washington, D.C.
Occupation Statistician, inventor, businessman
Awards Elliott Cresson Medal (1890)
World's Columbian Exposition, Bronze Medal (1892)
National Inventors Hall of Fame (1990)
Medaille d'Or, Exposition Universelle de 1889
Hollerith punched card
Hollerith card puncher used by the United States Census Bureau

Herman Hollerith (February 29, 1860 – November 17, 1929) was an American statistician and inventor who developed a mechanical tabulator based on punched cards. This tabulated (put into tables) the data from millions of people. He was the founder of the Tabulating Machine Company that later became IBM.

Hollerith is as a father of modern machine data processing.[1] The start of automatic data processing systems came with his invention. Programs and data were put in to computer by punched cards in the 1950s and 60s.[2]

Hollerith began working for the United States Census Bureau in the year he filed his first patent application. Titled "Art of Compiling Statistics", it was filed on September 23, 1884; U.S. Patent 395,782 was granted on January 8, 1889.[3]

Hollerith built machines under contract for the Census Office, which used them to tabulate the 1890 census in only one year.[4] The previous 1880 census had taken eight years.

Hollerith started his Tabulating Machine Company in 1896. Major census bureaus around the world leased his equipment and purchased his cards, as did major insurance companies. Hollerith's machines were used for censuses in England, Italy, Germany, Russia, Austria, Canada, France, Norway, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines, and again in the 1900 census.[2] To make his system work, he invented the first automatic card-feed mechanism and the first keypunch (that is, a punch operated by a keyboard); a skilled operator could punch 200–300 cards per hour. He also invented a tabulator.


  1. Herman Hollerith (1860-1929). [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 Da Cruz, Frank 2011. Herman Hollerith. [2] Columbia University.
  3. Search "Hollerith" at this IEEE site: [3]
  4. Hollerith's Electric Sorting and Tabulating Machine, ca. 1895 from the American Memory archives of the Library of Congress