Charles Babbage's analytical engine (see Fig. 1), which already provided for conditional branching, is regarded as the ancestor of the modern-day computer. He wanted to control his programmable machine with punched cards similar to the automatic looms from France.
Punched tapes or punched cards joined to tapes simplified work on looms (pattern control). Among the pioneers were Basile Bouchon (see Fig. 2), Jean-Baptiste Falcon (see Fig. 3), and Joseph-Marie Jacquard (see Fig. 4). Their achievements are on view in the Musée des arts et métiers in Paris.
The upsurge of punched card machines began in 1890 with the American census (Herman Hollerith). Punch card machines (see Fig. 5) were in use until the 1980s.
- Bruderer, Herbert: Milestones in Analog and Digital Computing, Springer Nature Switzerland AG, Cham, 3rd edition 2020, 2 volumes, 2113 pages, 715 illustrations, 151 tables, https://www.springer.com/de/book/9783030409739
- Bruderer, Herbert: Meilensteine der Rechentechnik, De Gruyter Oldenbourg, Berlin/Boston, 3. Auflage 2020, Band 1, 970 Seiten, 577 Abbildungen, 114 Tabellen, https://www.degruyter.com/view/title/567028?rskey=xoRERF&result=7
Herbert Bruderer is a retired lecturer in didactics of computer science at ETH Zurich. More recently, he has been an historian of technology. [email protected], [email protected]