Monday, November 16, 2009

Tabulating Machine

Today's picture was taken in 1919, and shows an office worker operating a tabulating machine. The machine was developed by the Census Bureau to help count large numbers of cards. It is interesting that complex mechanical computers were in development all the way back in the 1850's to try and help the Census Bureau with the large task of counting and tabulating the census.


  1. Seeing these old pictures makes me wonder about other senses associated with the time. For example, I wonder what that old machine sounded like when it ran. I know that we had an old electric type writer when I was a kid and I distinctly remember the burnt ozone/lightning smell when it was running. I wonder if these old machines smelled like some sort of machine oil, or if they had a distinct electic smell.

  2. Offices certainly are a lot quieter than they were 20 years ago. I do not miss the clack-clack of the typewriter days.

  3. Wait are you suggesting that we didn't get computer technology from the Roswell aliens?????

  4. This device sort of reminds me of the "keypunch" cards they used in the first (really big) computers.

    Does anyone remember when the computer would fill up a whole room??

    And there were always jobs in the paper for "keypunch operators."

    How times have changed!

  5. I did a search on tabulating machine on
    The original inventor of the tabulating machine, Herman Hollerith, started a company that eventually became IBM

  6. For some reason, this is reminding me of those old dating card machines that would find matches for people. Singles would fill out a questionnaire, send it in, and a unique notecard with holes punched in it was created. The machine would sort the cards according to the holes that were punched in them and create a match.

    You wouldn't happen to have a picture of one of those would you?

  7. It's amazing how ingenious people were, even 100years ago.

    I worked for a patent lawyer for 15 years. If you go back and look at some of the patents from the turn of the last century, it's easy to see how we got to where we are today.


  8. Norkio
    Maybe not the computer, but we did get the computer chips (instead of having to use the vacuum tubes) from them.
    A fellow believer.