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Herman Hollerith

 

 

(1860-1929)

 

Herman Hollerith ( HYPERLINK

"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_29" \o "February 29" February 29

, HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1860" \o "1860" 1860 –

HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/November_17" \o "November 17"

November 17 , HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1929" \o "1929"

1929 ) was an HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States"

\o "United States" American HYPERLINK

"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistics" \o "Statistics" statistician

who developed a mechanical system based on HYPERLINK

"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punched_card" \o "Punched card" punched

cards to rapidly tabulate statistics from thousands and millions of

data.

 

Personal Life

 

He was born on February 29, 1860 in Buffalo, New York to Johann George

Hollerith (1808-1869); and Franciska Brunn, both of HYPERLINK

"http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rheinfalz%2C_Germany&action=e

dit" \o "Rheinfalz, Germany" Rheinfalz, Germany . He graduated from

HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_College_of_New_York" \o

"City College of New York" City College of New York , with a bachelor's

degree in 1879. In 1880 he listed himself as a mining engineer while

living in Manhattan, and he completed his Ph.D. in 1890 at the

HYPERLINK

"http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Columbia_College_of_Mines&act

ion=edit" \o "Columbia College of Mines" Columbia College of Mines . In

1890 he married Lucia Beverley Talcott (1865-?) of Vera Cruz, Mexico and

they had six children. He died in 1929 of a heart attack and was buried

in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown, Virginia.

 

[ HYPERLINK

"http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Herman_Hollerith&action=edit&

section=2" \o "Herman Hollerith" edit ]

 

Electronic tabulation of statistical data

 

Hollerith spent 1882 on the Mechanical Engineering faculty at

HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIT" \o "MIT" MIT . During that

year he developed a prototype of a system for storing data on punched

cards which was partly inspired by the system used by railroad

conductors in which holes punched in various places on a passenger's

ticket identified the holder's passenger status. Urged on by HYPERLINK

"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Shaw_Billings" \o "John Shaw

Billings" John Shaw Billings , he developed a mechanism for reading the

presence or absence of holes in the cards using spring-mounted needles

that passed through the holes to make electrical connections to trigger

a counter to record one more of each value. The key idea (due to

Billings) was that all personal data could be coded numerically.

Hollerith saw that the numbers could be punched in specified column on

the cards, the cards sorted mechanically, and the appropriate columns

totalled. He described his idea in Patent No. 395,782 of January 8, 1889

as follows:

 

The herein described method of compiling statistics which consists in

recording separate statistical items pertaining to the individual by

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