(j3.2006) Do you want a copy of this?

Van Snyder Van.Snyder
Tue Apr 12 16:53:22 EDT 2011

I've received a scan of a letter from Herman Hollerith to somebody named
Wilson (no first name given), dated 7 August 1919.  My friends at Haus
zur Geschichte der IBM Datenverarbeitung in Sindelfingen believe Wilson
was director of data processing at the US Census Bureau during WW II.

It gives some insight into how Hollerith came up with the idea for
punched cards, and some of the work he did between 1880 and 1919.

Interestingly, he mentions paper tape, and explains why he rejected it.
"My idea at the time was to use a strip of paper and punch the record
for each individual in a line across the strip.  then I ran this strip
over a drum and made contacts through the hole to operate counters.
This you see gave me an ideal automatic feed.  The trouble was however
that if for example you wanted any statics [sic] regarding chinamen you
would have to run miles of paper to count a few chinamen....  I then
abandoned the continuous strip and took up individual cards."

Let me know if you want a PDF.

Van Snyder                    |  What fraction of Americans believe 
Van.Snyder at jpl.nasa.gov       |  Wrestling is real and NASA is fake?
Any alleged opinions are my own and have not been approved or
disapproved by JPL, CalTech, NASA, the President, or anybody else.

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