Wednesday, December 17, 2014

RetroTech: IBM 001 Manual Keypunch

While I'm working on my next projects, I thought I would contribute to the retrotech part of the Adafruit Show and Tell. My late father-in-law, who worked for IBM from 1940 to 1975, somehow got possession of a 001 Keypunch. He cleaned it up (about 50 years ago), and it's been in the family ever since.

This is a major piece of computing hardware history as well as computing business history.  The 1890 US Census was tabulated using Hollerith cards, but the punching technology was based on train conductors punches--one hole at a time.  Businesses soon discovered that all kinds of data could be tabulated in this manner (sales, inventory, personnel, etc., etc.), and the demand grew.  The 001 was a major advancement.  The 011 electronic keypunch came along in the 20's, followed by the 80-column card with rectangular holes instead of round in 1928.

Meanwhile, Hollerith sold his company, Tabulating Machine Company, in 1911 and took to farming, The resulting company was the Computing, Tabulating, and Recording Machine Company.  In 1914, Thomas Watson, Sr. became General Manager of CTR. He subsequently, became President and the company changed it's name to International Business Machines (IBM) in 1923.

Also, this was the time frame in which that Fisher, Pearson, et al., were developing modern statistical methods. The ability to tabulate large volumes of data and to apply statistical methods was a huge advance in a number of fields.

See me on the Show and Tell:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5e6WnSZdE8  (~18:45-21:30)


IBM 001 Manual Keypunch from Herman Hollerith's original 1901 patent.  The cards are the 45-column punch cards used until the 80-column cards came into use in the 1920's.

Another view showing the Tabulating Machine Company nameplate