Herman Hollerith


Herman Hollerith Essay, Research Paper

Herman Hollerith

Where would our world be today without computers? There would be a lot of things that are different then how they are today. Luckily, for us, a man by the name of Herman Hollerith discovered the basis for what we have today, a computer.

Hollerith was born in 1860 in Buffalo, New York. In his childhood, Herman was considered a very smart young boy. He attended the City College of New York when he was only fifteen. He then would move on to the Colombia School of Mines (Now Colombia University), where he would graduate with honors at the age of nineteen.

In 1880, Hollerith had a job as a special agent for the U.S. Census. During this time, the Census had a complicated system; a large group of clerks took all the data that had been collected and analyzed, organized, and published those figures by hand. This small task today took over ten years to count, and by the time the results were published, they were already five years out of date.

Hollerith was around to see that Census, and he knew there had to be a better way. Hollerith had an idea to save the country time and money, they would be called Hollerith cards. These cards were the size of dollar bills that had 12 rows of 20 holes that indicated a person?s age, sex, birth place, marital status, number of children, and etc. This card was fed into a statistical machine that was made by Hollerith. This machine had numerous pins that would go into the holes that were punched and recorded the information. Each punch on a card represented a number, two punches represented a letter. Each single card could hold up to 80 different variables. This computer would change the Census time from ten years to six weeks, and save the people millions of dollars. In addition to the quickness of the punch cards, they also served as a storage method for data and this helped reduce the number of computational errors. This system counted and tallied information on over 62 million people for the U.S. census for 1890.

This machine was very simple, it had only four parts. First the card puncher, this perforated the cards at the proper points. Next there was a card reader, this checked the position of the punched holes. Then a card counter, this displayed the number of each hole as the wheel of the counter turned. Finally a card sorter, this separated the cards according the holes punched into the correct areas.

As time went on Hollerith improved his machine to make the task easier.(Kind of like they do today) Hollerith improved this invention by adding a function to this simple machine. He added a part that would mechanically fed the punch cards into the machine. This would cut down on workers and just made it easier. Hollerith founded a company called the Tabulating Machine Company in 1896, this company would later become the company we know as today called International Business Machines(IBM).

Herman Hollerith?s invention sent our world on the path we are today. He was the real industrial revolution leader to me. People all across the world used the Hollerith card until the late 1960?s. But today every computer has the idea of the simple punch card that Hollerith made back in 1890. Everyday we are involved with the technology of computers. Our world has become very computer oriented, Hollerith put us the track to where we are today. If you think about how many things we have are dependent on computers, its mind boggling; clock radios, research, communication, businesses, and hundreds more. Hollerith benefited his time by allowing the census to be done in a reasonable time for a cheaper price.

Hollerith has benefited me in many ways also. I am very involved in computers, I buy things on my computer, communicated via email with my brothers and friends, use microwaves, do research, and a lot more. I think Hollerith has found me a career as well. I am thinking of entering college as a computer science major and he has set the standards for what I will do for the rest of my life. Also he has affected my life in that my dad?s business is very computer oriented. If we didn?t have those computers, there would be tons and tons of filing that I would have to do by hand! He saved the other receptionist and I time and just made things easier. He is a very important person in our world history.

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