Hollerith printing and listing tabulating machine, c 1925.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The use of punched cards to analyse data was devised by German inventor Dr Herman Hollerith (1860-1929) in response to a contest to proces data for the 1890 US census. This later machine combined several functions in one. After the punched cards were sorted, they were pased through the tabulator and the information they contained was transmitted to the adding and printing mechanisms. The tabulator printed out this information, added and subtracted costs and quantities, and printed out the data. In 1896 Hollerith formed a company to market his products and services, and this later evolved into International Busines Machines, known today as IBM.