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Herman Hollerith

Herman Hollerith (February 29, 1860-November 17, 1929) was an American business man and the promulgator of the punch card.

Hollerith graduated from Columbia University, New York and joined the US Census Bureau as a statistician where he used a punched card device (inspired by the system, used by the railroad conductors, of punching holes in various places on a passenger's ticket to identify the holder e.g., gender, age group) to help analyse the 1890 US census data. This later evolved into a punched card system that stored data in 80 columns. This "80-column" concept has carried forward in various forms into modern applications.

On January 8, 1889 Hollerith received a patent for his electric tabulating machine[?]. In 1896, Hollerith founded the Tabulating Machine Company[?] to exploit his invention and in 1924 his firm became part of IBM. The Hollerith system was used for the 1911 UK census.

Based on a FOLDOC entry

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