Herman Hollerith

Herman Hollerith

Herman Hollerith (* 29. February 1860 in Buffalo, New York; † 17. November 1929 in Washington, D.C.) an US-American entrepreneur was, an engineer. He is inventor of the Hollerith Lochkartenverfahrens designated after him in the data processing.

In Buffalo in US Federal State New York as a child of German immigrants from the Pfalz born studied it to the Columbia University engineering sciences. Hollerith was a graduated mine engineer and had patents for an automatic railway compressed air brake and forthe machine production of corrugated sheet plates announced.

Since he worked first as a statistician for the American government, he concerned himself with the collection and storage of data by means of punch cards. Falling back to the construction ideas of the French mechanic Falcon, that its loomby means of a Holzbrettchens with punch combinations and the advancement of this procedure by Jacquard, which replaces the Holzbrettchen by punch cards from sticking templates, transferred Hollerith steered the control procedure by means of punched maps to organizational problem definitions. As model it used at the time at that timewithin the railway range common system, which classified the passengers by means of several holes in the tickets according to sex and age. It developed a system for the collection of data on punch cards. To 9. He installed the invention in the US war Ministry for December 1888. To 8. January 1889 it announced its system to the patent. It became thereby the founder of the machine data processing.

Its system was used during the census 1890/1891. It contributed to an enormous acceleration of the counting, whereby itsucceeded to evaluate this in only 4 weeks with 43 machines and 500 people as operating personnel for which whole 7 years had before used the same number of people. It was of central importance also that the machines were rented not sold but only.Holleriths first larger order outside of the United States came from Russia, where a census was accomplished for the first time.

After further improvements of the system it created 1896 the Tabulating Machine company around its invention commercially to finally use. However it lost 1905 due to covered prices its best customer, the American Census office, which accomplished censuses every 10 years. He sued 1910 unsuccessfully the Census office because of alleged infringement of a patent and tried so the census to prevent. 1911 sold its finally to HollerithSociety for approximately 1.21 million dollar plus an advisor contract with 20,000 endows dollar annually, over ten years constantly.Tabulating Machine company fused with the Computing Scale corporation and that internationally Time Recording company to the Computing Tabulating Recording corporation (CTR). 1924CTR was finally renamed in internationally Business Machines corporation (IBM).


  • Austrian, Geoffrey D. Herman Hollerith. Forgotten Giant OF information processing. New York: Columbia University press, 1982.
  • Dotzler, Bernhard J. The adjustableness of the world.Herman Hollerith and the archaeology of the media. In: ders. /Stefan Andriopoulos (Hg.).1929. Contributions for the archaeology of the media. Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp 2002, S. 288-315.
  • Petzold, Hartmut. Modern computing artists. The industrialization of the computing technology in Germany. Munich: Beck, 1992.

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